Third vaccine dose strategy differs throughout the Maritimes

COVID-19 vaccine boosters are being administered around the Maritimes, but eligibility for a third dose depends on where you live.

New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island are all recommending a booster shot to anybody who is immunocompromised.

“I have a fair amount of patients who are on biologic medications so they are immunocompromised because of that,” says Dr. Mark MacMillan, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society. “So I have these conversations with many of my patients on a daily basis.”

New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are also offering a third shot to people living in a long-term care facility.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti says a targeted approach is the way to go for now because it will reach those who are most vulnerable to the virus.

“For the rest of the population it’s not necessary right now,” said Chakrabarti in an interview with CTV News Channel. “I’ve been hearing a lot about people who are going down to the U.S. to get a booster. You don’t need it right now, you’re still protected even if you got vaccinated early on.”

Nova Scotia is offering a third dose to people who need to travel for work but can’t because they’ve previously received two different COVID-19 vaccines.

Some countries, including the U.S., only consider people who’ve been given identical doses as being fully vaccinated. As well, some countries don’t recognize Oxford-AstraZeneca as an approved vaccine

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, says the decision about who should get a third dose has an ethical component to it.

“Even though there may be some incremental benefit from a third dose in Canada, is it the best of use of a vaccine when you look at it from a global perspective?” says Strang. “There are lots of people who’ve had no access to vaccine at all.”