The COVID immunization clinic at the Quadra Village Community Centre is administering Omicron-targeting bivalent vaccines. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

The COVID immunization clinic at the Quadra Village Community Centre is administering Omicron-targeting bivalent vaccines. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

Island Health officials encourage vaccine boosters as fall looms

Omicron-targeting vaccine appointments open up at Island Health clinics

Island Health officials encouraged residents to be on the look for when they can get their COVID-19 booster shot as fall looms.

Medical health officer Dr. Dee Hoyano and public health nurse Monica Stevenson gave an update on the booster rollout outside the Quadra Village Community Centre vaccine clinic on Tuesday.

Those at a higher risk of adverse impacts from COVID should especially prioritize getting their booster, Hoyano said.

Pharmacies were already seeing good uptake of the Omicron-targeting bivalent doses before it started to be offered at immunization clinics on Sept. 19. Those eligible for their booster should keep an eye out for a text advising them on when they should schedule their shot.

The number of appointments opening up is dependent on staffing availability and Island Health hopes to have the clinics fully staffed by next week. Those over the age of 18 getting their fourth shot will receive a bivalent dose.

Appointments are filling up quickly already, Stevenson said. On Tuesday, 330 adults were set to get their shot at the Quadra Village clinic, while another 66 had appointments at the Mary Winspear Centre.

“When we do open up appointments, they are filling up,” she said.

The health officials said regardless of whether people get their vaccine at an immunization clinic or a pharmacy, all the sites will have an adequate supply of doses to serve demand. Starting in October, people will also be able to get their flu shot alongside their COVID jab.

The health officials recognized that the public may be experiencing some vaccine fatigue. But they stressed how the vaccines allowed people to open their lives up again while reducing the need for things like lockdowns, self-isolating and social bubbles.

“That is what we’re trying to maintain,” Stevenson said. “We can maintain our normal day-to-day lives without having to go back to what we had (in the) early COVID days.”

The proof is also in the numbers, she said, pointing to the shots helping to dramatically decrease COVID hospitalization and death rates.

“I know this is hard for the public to wrap their heads around – yet again another vaccine – but look at the facts, look at the figures, we have vaccines that work and we’re trying to get ahead of this virus before it gets ahead of us again,” Stevenson said.

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