When is the best time to get a booster after catching Omicron? Here's Alberta's official guidance

Alberta's recommendation to anyone who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and hasn't had their booster shot yet is to wait until their symptoms go away. 

The province's top doctor clarified Alberta's position on Thursday during a provincial pandemic update. 

"We have heard that is a common question, and we recently updated a clinical bulletin to physicians and pharmacists to provide them with information, as patients are coming to them with that question," Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said. 

"The national advisory committee and our own Alberta advisory committee have debated this question on numerous occasions and they have landed on the recommendation that someone can consider going for a booster once they are feeling better from their infection." 

FOLLOWING NACI'S FOOTSTEPS 

Booster doses are given to people with complete vaccine series to enhance waning protection. 

Hinshaw's guidance to practitioners, dated Dec. 24, advises them to "counsel patients on timing" and consider several factors, including a patient's risks of exposure and severe illness from re-infection. 

She noted in the letter there is insufficient evidence to recommend a specific optimal interval, and since the available evidence does not suggest an increased risk of a severe reaction in those previously infected, Alberta would be following the leadership of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.  

"If you speak to a dozen experts, you'll get a dozen opinions because ultimately each interval has pros and cons, which is why we've chosen to allow people to receive it once they've recovered from their infection while at the same time providing a range of information to clinicians," Hinshaw commented on Thursday. 

Ontario's top doctor has said waiting to get a booster shot for 30 days after an active infection is "immunologically" the best, as it allows antibodies to decline and a patient to make a complete recovery. 

British Columbia recommends patients get boosted after completing their self-isolation period and 10 days have passed since the start of symptoms

Hinshaw told Alberta physicians to factor in a patient's potential infection-acquired immunity, variants of concern, and their work and living situation when assessing a patient's risk of re-infection. 

As of Jan. 12, 27.6 per cent of eligible Albertans had received three doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Third-dose vaccination rates were above 70 per cent in all age groups above 70 years old, and grew lower with a decline in population age. Less than 15 per cent of adults under the age of 30 had received a third dose of vaccine in Alberta.