NACI “strongly recommending” all Canadians over the age of 50 get COVID-19 booster shots

The committee has also strengthened its recommendation for several other groups

A day after Ontario announced the age of eligibility to get a COVID-19 booster shot was being lowered, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said on Friday it strongly recommends a third dose of vaccine for people over the age of 50.

The committee has also strengthened its recommendation for several other groups, and now strongly suggests boosters for people who received a full series of the Oxford-AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccine, those in or from First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities, and front-line health workers.

As well, the NACI has suggested a third dose may be offered to people 18 to 49 years old at least six months after they receive their first two doses.

The committee also said the Pfizer vaccine is preferred over Moderna to give to people aged 12 to 29 and is the preferred vaccine for booster doses in those 18 to 29 years of age due to the lower risk of myocarditis or pericarditis, as a few young people -mostly boys and men- have experienced inflammation of the heart muscle post-vaccination. It said people over 30 years of age can either get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine for their booster.

The new recommendations come after an urgent request from the federal government on the role of COVID-19 vaccine boosters in fighting the new Omicron variant.

At least seven cases of Omicron have been confirmed in Ontario.

Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said at a media conference on Thursday that the age of eligibility for a third COVID jab is being lowered to people aged 50 and older.

Currently, those eligible for a third dose in the province are people aged 70 and older, people who received two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine or one dose of Janssen, health-care workers or essential caregivers in congregate settings, and First Nations, Inuit and Metis adults and their non-Indigenous household members.

Starting at 8 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, individuals aged 50 and over will be eligible to schedule their booster dose appointment through the COVID-19 vaccination portal, by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, select pharmacies, and primary care settings. Appointments will be booked for approximately six months (168 days) after a second dose.