Health professional expects another COVID-19 vaccine dose available in fall

The New Brunswick Pharmacists’ Association says about 9,400 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were given at pharmacies in the province last week, and around one third were second booster shots.

"We do have a lot of patients coming in," says Alistair Bursey, pharmacy owner and pharmacist, "I would say we’re probably doing on our big clinic days close to a hundred people, and that’s once a week …throughout the week, I’d say about 20 to 25 patients a day."

It has been about two weeks since New Brunswick expanded eligibility for boosters – allowing residents over the age of 50, as long as it has been at least five months since their last dose.

It’s also been said that anyone who has been recently infected with the virus should wait three months before getting their fourth shot.

"I think the way it was staggered, there’s a lot of patients we vaccinated at the end of December, and also in January," says Bursey, "so that means we’re going to have a lot in May I suspect."

As for why it’s important to get it when possible, one infectious disease specialist describes the fourth dose as a 'stop-gap' with the BA. 2 variant.

"Because of the two conflicting problems, an increase in variants and a decrease in antibodies, that is why we need to have this second booster now," says Dr. Donald Vinh.

He also says another dose could be needed around the fall as it’s expected another variant may emerge.

"That dose that we’re going to get in the fall, is not likely going to be the same dose that we’ve been using for the last year and a half, two years," says Dr. Vinh.

"The current vaccines that are in development are actually much more promising because they don’t contain just the original strain – they contain combinations, combinations of variants."

Dr. Vinh describes it as more of a 'cocktail' which could mean an antibody response that doesn’t decline as quickly as previous vaccines.