COVID-19 vaccine booster eligibility by province and territory in Canada

Although booster shots and third doses of COVID-19 vaccines aren't currently recommended for most Canadians, additional doses are being made available to certain populations or those who need to travel for work based on their province or territory of residence.

Health experts and federal agencies are debating the need for booster shots across the general population, saying that a primary vaccine course still provides good protection against COVID-19.

Health Canada regulates drugs and vaccines in this country, but the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is the federal entity that provides advice to provinces and territories regarding use of the COVID-19 vaccines.

NACI suggested on Oct. 29 that provinces offer mRNA vaccine booster shots to Canadians who are aged 70 and up, along with people who received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine or one dose of the Janssen vaccine and adults in First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities, at least six months after their primary vaccine course.

Front-line health-care workers who have direct in-person contact with patients and who were originally vaccinated within a short time interval are also recommended for boosters.

In late September, NACI recommended booster shots for all long-term care residents and seniors living in other congregate settings at least six months after the primary vaccine course.

A few weeks earlier, NACI recommended third vaccine doses be administered to certain immunocompromised individuals at least 28 days after their previous dose. Each province and territory has enacted a third-dose policy for immunocompromised people.

Third doses are considered part of a primary vaccine course, while booster shots are meant to be given when vaccine effectiveness wanes and often contain a smaller dosage.

Public opinion on the matter appears to sway in favour of booster shots. The vast majority of Canadians have expressed interest in one, according to a survey commissioned by CTV News, with 69 per cent of respondents saying they were interested and 15 per cent saying they were somewhat interested.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has started giving booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to anyone aged 65 and up.

Moderna has asked Health Canada to authorize its half-dose booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel endorsed the same shot last week.

ELIGIBILITY FOR ADDITIONAL DOSES BY PROVINCE AND TERRITORY

British Columbia: Residents of long-term care and assisted living centres, as well as vulnerable people living in shelters or high-risk congregate settings, are being offered mRNA booster shots six months after their second dose. This will soon include seniors aged 70 and up and Indigenous people aged 12 and up. Starting in January 2022, all eligible vaccine recipients will be invited to get boosters between six and eight months after their primary vaccine course. People who are moderately to severely immunocompromised may be able get a third dose four weeks after their second one. Booking invites will be sent through the province's Get Vaccinated system.

Alberta: Those who are eligible for an additional dose include Albertans aged 75 and up at least six months after receiving their second dose. First Nations, Inuit and Métis people aged 65 and up can also receive a third shot six months after their second dose. Immunocompromised individuals 12 years and older with specific conditions may be eligible for a third dose eight weeks after their second one. Residents of seniors' supportive living facilities can get a third shot five months after their second one. Finally, travellers to places where the AstraZeneca vaccine or mixed doses aren't recognized can get a third shot four weeks after their second dose.

Saskatchewan: Residents 65 years and older, health-care workers and individuals born in 2009 or earlier with certain underlying health conditions, can receive an mRNA booster dose six months following their second dose. Residents of the Far North and those living in First Nations communities who are aged 50 and older may also get boosters. Long-term and personal care home residents are eligible for an additional dose as well. Some immunocompromised and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals can receive a third dose 28 days after their second one. Those who are eligible for medical reasons will receive a letter from the ministry of health or their physician. A third or even fourth dose is also available for those who may require it for international travel. If you have already received a third dose for travel or because you’re in a long-term care or personal care home setting, you do not require a booster dose.

Manitoba: Additional mRNA vaccine doses are recommended for residents of congregate elderly persons housing, First Nations people living on reserves and individuals who have only received a viral vector COVID-19 vaccine, as well as health-care workers who have direct contact with patients, personal care home residents or clients, six months after their previous dose. Residents of personal care homes and residents and staff of First Nations personal care homes can also get a third shot six months after their previous one. Third doses are also permitted for people who may be moderately to severely immunocompromised, as well as people who have received one or two doses of a vaccine not approved by Health Canada, at least four weeks after their last shot.

Ontario: A third dose is currently recommended for people who may be moderately to severely immunocompromised, eight weeks after their previous dose. Residents of long-term care homes, high-risk retirement homes, First Nations elder care lodges and elderly people living in other congregate settings may also be able to get an additional dose five months after their second one. In a similar category, individuals with proof of immunization who underwent a one- or two-dose course of a COVID-19 vaccine not approved by Health Canada may receive an additional mRNA vaccine dose at least 28 days after the preceding one.

Quebec: An mRNA vaccine booster dose is recommended for residents of residential and long-term care centres, people living in private seniors residences and people living in settings with a high percentage of vulnerable older adults, such as intermediate and family-type resources, as well as certain religious communities. Boosters should be administered six months after the primary vaccine course, however, a minimum delay of five months is acceptable for those who wish to receive a flu shot at the same time. For people on dialysis and certain individuals with weakened immune systems, a third COVID-19 vaccine dose is recommended four weeks after the second dose.

New Brunswick: Health-care workers and members of First Nations communities can receive an mRNA booster shot six months after their second dose. Moderately to severely immunocompromised people may be eligible for an additional mRNA vaccine dose four weeks after their second dose.

Nova Scotia: Moderately to severely immunocompromised people may be eligible for an additional mRNA vaccine dose at least 28 days after their initial vaccine course. People who require an extra dose in order to meet the vaccine requirements needed to travel for work can apply for approval of a third dose by email.

Prince Edward Island: Residents of long-term care and community care facilities, as well as moderately to severely immunocompromised islanders, may be able to receive a third dose 28 days after their second one. Those who must travel for work or school and received mixed vaccine doses may also be eligible to get an additional matching mRNA vaccine dose.

Newfoundland and Labrador: Moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals may be eligible to receive an additional mRNA vaccine dose four weeks after the second one. Those who underwent a mixed vaccine course and need to travel for work or a medical procedure outside of Canada or attend school outside of the country are also eligible for a third dose.

Yukon: Starting in the first week of November, boosters will be made available to Yukoners aged 50 and up six months after their primary vaccine course. Residents of Whitehorse, Carcross, Haines Junction and Watson Lake will have the first opportunity to receive booster shots. Clinics in other locations will be announced in the coming weeks, and all communities will have had a clinic by Dec. 10. Third doses are also available to those who may be immunocompromised, 28 days after their second vaccine dose.

Northwest Territories: All residents who are or will be 18 years of age by the end of 2021 are eligible for a booster shot six months after their second dose. People who are severely immunocompromised, as well as front-line health-care workers in Yellowknife and Behchoko, are eligible for an additional mRNA vaccine dose.

Nunavut: An additional mRNA vaccine dose may be given to immunocompromised individuals 12 years and over at least four weeks after their second dose.

With files from CTVNewsVancouver.ca reporter Alyse Kotyk