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Health unit prepares for expansion of COVID-19 booster shots – Tbnewswatch.com

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THUNDER BAY – Health authorities are preparing to ramp up the provision of COVID-19 booster shots, with all Ontario adults expected to be made eligible in the coming months.

Health Canada authorized the use of the Moderna vaccine as a booster shot for those 18 and older on Friday, days after granting similar approval to the Pfizer vaccine.

Third doses had already begun rolling out to those at higher risk of COVID-19, like people over 70, health care workers, those who are immunocompromised, and Indigenous people.

Thunder Bay’s medical officer of health, Dr. Janet DeMille, urged people in those groups to get their booster shots, noting people 80 and older are at particularly high risk.

“I certainly would encourage people to get a booster dose if they’re eligible,” she said. “One group I’m particularly concerned about is those who are older, because there is some evidence that there’s a waning of immunity [after two doses]. When there are breakthrough cases, they’re still the ones who are more likely to get a serious illness that requires hospitalization.”

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has said there’s no firm evidence yet that adults in younger categories will face waning immunity in the same way as those 70 and up, while the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has said booster shots aren’t needed for those who aren’t in one of the higher-risk groups.

Still, the provincial government has announced plans to make booster shots available to all adults 18 and older “over the coming months.”

DeMille said the booster shot “adds another layer of protection” for individuals, as well as communities.

“We have a good immunization rate, and we know these vaccines work really well,” she said. “But there is the risk, especially as time increases from the second dose, that [people] could experience some waning of immunity… We know the boosters do boost immunity, and in some jurisdictions have resulted in less breakthrough cases.”

While she encourages adults to get booster shots when they’re eligible, she said the need is less urgent for those outside of the higher-risk categories .

“There’s no immunological cliff where suddenly at six months, people need to get it right away,” she said. “People may be a little bit more relaxed [about booking their third dose], and I think that’s okay. Two doses work really well, but the farther you get from your second dose, the more benefit that booster dose can provide.”

The booster shots are authorized by Health Canada to be administered at least six months after an individual has completed the primary series of vaccines.

Moderna’s COVID-19 booster is a half dose of the regular vaccine, 50 micrograms. Pfizer’s booster shot is identical for that used for first and second doses.

The province has not yet announced details of its plan to expand booster doses to all adults, but DeMille said she expects that to come shortly.

“What we’re anticipating is that the province will announce the use of booster doses rolling out in January for the rest of the population. I don’t know what that will look like, whether it will be going down in ages or specific to different groups.”

Booster shots for those already eligible are being administered at the health unit’s vaccine clinic at the CLE building, as well as some local pharmacies, with demand expected to pick up over the coming weeks.

Health care organizations like the hospital will administer boosters to their own staff, DeMille said.

Indigenous partners who rolled out first and second doses are also planning clinics, while the Sioux Lookout First Nation Health Authority is coordinating Operation Remote Immunity 3.0 to reach First Nations in the north.

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UK study finds mRNA COVID-19 vaccines provide biggest booster impact – Fiji Times

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LONDON (Reuters) -COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna that use mRNA technology provide the biggest boost to antibody levels when given 10-12 weeks after the second dose, a new British study has found.

The “COV-Boost” study was cited by British officials when they announced that Pfizer and Moderna were preferred for use in the country’s booster campaign, but the data has only been made publicly available now.

The study found that six of the seven boosters examined enhanced immunity after initial vaccination with Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine, while all seven increased immunity when given after two doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

“A third dose will be effective for many of the vaccines we’ve tested and in many different combinations,” Professor Saul Faust, an immunologist at the University of Southampton and the trial’s lead, told reporters.

The study, published late on Thursday, found that a full dose or half dose of Pfizer or a full dose of Moderna gave a strong boost to both antibody and T-cell levels, regardless of whether the person initially received Pfizer or AstraZeneca.

“All four of the vaccination regimes most widely deployed in the UK lead to essentially the same levels of immunity and are likely to be equally effective,” said Professor Eleanor Riley, immunologist at the University of Edinburgh. She added that a policy change in booster gaps was also supported by the data.

“These data support the JCVI (vaccine committee) decision earlier this week to bring forward booster doses to 3 months after the second vaccination.”

When AstraZeneca, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and Curevac were given as boosters, they increased antibody levels for either initial vaccine, albeit to a smaller degree, the study found. However, while Valneva boosted antibodies in people initially vaccinated with AstraZeneca, it did not provide a boost for Pfizer.

The COV-Boost study pre-dated the spread of the emergent Omicron variant of concern, and Faust said he had shared samples with the UK Health Security Agency to generate data on Omicron.

The study did however find that booster shots also helped to generate a broad T-cell response against the Beta and Delta variants, which may play a key role in longer-term protection.

A separate study by Imperial College London into how initial exposure to SARS-CoV-2 shapes immune responses, also published late on Thursday, similarly found a good T-cell response to both Alpha and Delta after infection followed by vaccination.

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Dutch former queen Beatrix tests positive for COVID-19

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Dutch former queen Beatrix, 83, has tested positive for COVID-19, the royal information service RVD said in a statement Saturday.

Princess Beatrix, as she has been known since her abdication in 2013, got tested after coming down with “mild cold symptoms”, the statement said.

“The princess is at home in isolation and adheres to the rules of life for people who have tested positive,” it added.

The Netherlands has been experiencing a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is threatening to overwhelm the country’s healthcare system.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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‘I was shocked’: Mother, child mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccine instead of flu shot – Comox Valley Record

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A Manitoba mother says a routine appointment for her and her three-year-old to get flu shots ended in frustration and mixed messages after they were each mistakenly given an adult dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Jenna Bardarson is calling for policy changes at the province’s vaccination centres to make sure that doesn’t happen to another family.

The shots were administered on Nov. 24 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.

Bardarson says that shortly after she and her daughter, Dali, got their shots, the health worker who had given them excused herself to speak with a supervisor. When the worker returned, she told them she had made a mistake and given them both the adult Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. My immediate concerns were, of course, would my daughter be OK and also who could I speak to about this,” Bardarson said in online social media messages Friday to The Canadian Press.

Once she got home, Bardarson made multiple calls to different departments with the regional medical authority, hoping to speak with someone about the error and her concerns, she said.

She said no one was able to provide her with the answers or information she needed. “The conversations with various Prairie Mountain Health members have been frustrating, to say the least.”

Bardarson said she already had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and was due for her booster shot next month. Her daughter is too young to be eligible.

Health Canada last month approved a pediatric version of the Pfizer shot for children ages five to 11, but it has not yet approved a vaccine for those under five.

Bardarson said she and her daughter had headaches and sore arms the following day. Her daughter had no appetite and was throwing up.

Manitoba Health confirmed the mistake in a statement and said staff from Prairie Mountain have reached out to the mother to discuss what happened as well as to provide an update on an investigation.

“Patient safety is a critical aspect of all health-care services in Manitoba. We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure that our systems support our staff in preventing errors,” it said.

“In this case … our team reviewed the existing processes to make adjustments that would help avoid a similar error from occurring in the future.”

Bardarson said the health region has not provided her with updated information on the investigation and would not discuss any consequences the health worker may have faced.

Manitoba Health said no further action would be taken against the worker, because she immediately recognized the error and told a supervisor.

For Bardarson, that’s not enough.

“I by no means want her fired; however, there should be some sort of measures in place for harm reduction.”

Bardarson suggested taking away the worker’s injection privileges or enhanced supervision during vaccinations.

She said she would also like to see areas at vaccination centres separated by vaccine types, instead of having different vaccines offered in the same booth.

Manitoba Health could not say if others have been given a COVID-19 vaccine by mistake, but acknowledged that medication errors, although rare, do occur. It added that Bardarson was provided with information about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine, which in this case it says are low.

Health Canada said it is not in charge of immunization monitoring and could not comment on whether similar mistakes have occurred in other parts of the country.

– Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press

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