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Are booster shots still needed with COVID numbers down ? And what if you’ve had COVID ?

A Medical Health Officer with Northern Health says while the number of new COVID 19 infections is on the decline, we can expect another wave in the coming months.

Doctor Trevor Corneil says it will likely come in the summer or early fall.

Because of that, he says it is important to ensure that you have good immunity to COVID.

“We know that two doses is the full series, and that provides significant protection, particularly against severe illness.   The booster really does make a difference, particularly in older age groups in maintaining that level of immunity.”

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Dr. Corneil says they find that people’s immunity also starts to wane or drop off after about 6 months.

We also asked Dr. Corneil if you have had COVID if there was any point in getting a booster shot.

“There is evidence that getting an infection does provide some immunity.  The difficulty we have is that immunity varies with different people, and we’re working to try and sort out what level of immunity it provides.  I think if somebody has had two doses and they’ve been infected, that could be similar to a booster.  That said, I would want a third booster anyway because it will provide me that extra immunity and that extra protection against severe disease.”

Looking ahead, Dr. Corneil says they’re not sure at this point if a fourth booster will be needed.

“They have rolled that out in other jurisdictions around the world.  The UK has rolled one out as has Israel, and we’re certainly considering that here in Canada.  There are still some studies pending from those other countries that will help tell us what to do.”

Dr. Corneil says they’re also not sure if we do get another wave, if it will be another Omicron variant, or a new variant.

“What we know from the countries that are a bit ahead of us is it seems to be an omicron type variant that is circulating.  We haven’t seen a new variant emerge at this point.  The variant does have a sub type name.  The best way to think about it is Omicron-2, and it really doesn’t play out that much differently in terms of how we manage it.”

He says we’re all hopeful that that if there is going to be another wave that it is one like Omicron that is less severe, and causes less severe illness in the broader population.

Dr. Corneil says the Omicron variant is about 10 times less severe than previous variants.

However, he says it is still about twice as severe as influenza.

 

 

 

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