Those 18 and older who have specific immunocompromising conditions can now book their fourth booster five months after receiving their third dose, said Alberta Health.
The decision announced on Tuesday in the provincial COVID-19 address is in line with recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and the Alberta Advisory Committee on Immunization (AACI).
“We remain committed to protecting Albertans from the Omicron variant, and vaccinations continue to be our best tool in preventing severe outcomes,” said Premier Jason Kenney in a statement.
“We continue to rely on the latest research to guide our decision-making, and with evidence showing immunocompromised individuals benefit from a fourth dose, we are pleased to provide them.”
Eligible individuals can begin booking fourth dose appointments beginning January 20 with AHS or at participating pharmacies by using the Alberta vaccine booking system or by calling 811.
“I know that the approximately 80,000 Albertans who live with immunocompromising conditions will be relieved to receive these additional doses,” said Minister of Health Jason Copping.
“At the same time, the best way for all of us to protect ourselves and one another is to continue getting whatever dose we are eligible for. I encourage all Albertans to continue to sign up for their booster doses as soon as they can.”
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the fourth COVID-19 dose will help “individuals with certain immunocompromising conditions” and will provide “additional protection” against the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
Qualifying conditions include:
- Transplant recipients, including solid organ transplants and hematopoietic stem cell transplants.
- Individuals with malignant hematologic disorders and non-hematologic malignant solid tumors prior to receiving or receiving active treatment (chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy or having received previous COVID-19 vaccines while on active treatment), excluding individuals receiving solely hormonal therapy, radiation therapy or a surgical intervention.
- Individuals being treated with an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody such as Rituximab.
- Individuals with chronic kidney disease on dialysis.
- Recipients of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell therapy.
- Individuals with moderate to severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
- Individuals with Stage 3 or advanced HIV infection and those with acquired COVID-19 immunization.
- Individuals undergoing immunosuppressive therapies (e.g., anti-B cell therapies, high-dose systemic corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, or tumornecrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and other biologic agents).
- Individuals on certain medications for autoimmune diseases, including rituximab, ocrelizumab and ofatumumab.
“Youth ages 12 to 17 with the preceding conditions continue to be eligible for third doses. Fourth doses have not yet been approved for this age group,” said the release adding, “third doses have not been approved for youth under the age of 18.”
Hinshaw said the province has recorded 3279 new cases within the last 24 hours while 8995 tests were recorded for a positivity rate of 39%. Hinshaw has earlier stated actual cases are likely 10 times higher due to lack of testing.
Hinshaw also confirmed 1,089 are currently in hospital — 51% of those hospitalized are due to COVID-19 while 49% are cases with COVID-19. Currently, there are 104 people in ICU — 74% due to COVID-19 while 26% are cases with COVID-19. Nine deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.
Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard