Vulnerable seniors need booster shots, care providers say

How it got in, they do not know.

But COVID-19 is back inside Menno Home in Abbotsford.

This time, it has infected an entire wing of a dementia care unit. All 21 residents along with 14 staff have tested positive.

“This virus is so insidious and so invisible,” said Menno Place CEO Karen Biggs.

“The residents are 100 per cent double vaccinated. The staff who are sick are double vaccinated,” Biggs explained.

She says the outbreak now is much different than the one in November.

Biggs says the symptoms of infection are much milder this time and there have been far fewer deaths.

But still, two seniors have died.

And now she’s urging the province to offer vulnerable residents and staff a booster vaccine.

“Our residents, their second vaccine was in January so the vaccine has been a long time ago for these residents and my staff,” Biggs said.

Her sentiments are echoed by the B.C. Care Providers Association, which has also been calling for boosters.

“We saw care home outbreaks literally go down to zero and now we’ve got them all over the province,” said Terry Lake of the BCCPA.

“A third booster is needed and I would say in long-term care it is needed today,” he added.

“I don’t think we can wait any longer. We’re losing residents. Families are devastated and staff are burned out,” Lake said.

Twenty-three care facilities in the province are currently experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.

“Some of the preliminary studies of the vaccine suggested immunity would begin to wane six to nine months after administration of a second shot of a two-shot vaccine,” Dr. Brian Conway told CTV News. Conway serves as the medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre.

The doctor also points out that the vaccine does not work in ten to twenty per cent of cases.

Conway says a third dose plan is something under consideration in B.C. for those deemed high-risk.

“We’re trying to determine if this is really necessary. Some jurisdictions, such as Israel, a decision has been made just to administer the boosters,” he said.

Meanwhile, Biggs worries about vulnerable seniors having to battle COVID-19.

“This virus is morphing and we just don’t know what it’s going to bring at us next,” Biggs said.