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Residents, experts hail Sask. Extension of eligibility for the 2nd COVID-19 booster vaccination

Saskatchewan residents and experts welcome the news that anyone over the age of 18 can now receive their second booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, provided they received their third dose at least four months earlier.

“I live with people who are very vulnerable and I want to make sure I don’t bring anything home that could cause them serious harm,” said Natasha Williamson of Saskatoon on Friday.

Williamson, 39, says not knowing when she would get her fourth dose was stressful.

The wait has been long since she received her third dose in late 2021, and that’s why she’s so excited to get her fourth dose booked as soon as possible.

Natasha Williamson says she sees her second booster as a birthday present: she’ll get her shot on the day she turns 40.

“I think I kind of liked to squeal happily, and then I immediately went online and checked my two closest pharmacies and made an appointment,” the Saskatoon woman said.

COVID-19 continues to circulate

The province says COVID-19 continues to spread in Saskatchewan and Canada, leading to an extension of eligibility.

Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab said the protection that vaccines offer weakens over time and that booster shots can help protect against serious illness, hospitalization and death.

“All COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada are considered safe, and our preliminary data shows that a second booster dose provides additional protection,” Shahab said in a statement released Friday.

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Adults can book their fourth shots from Friday, with dates available from Monday.

Previously, the second booster shot was available to people over the age of 50 or people living in foster homes or shared homes with seniors.

Booster expansion “a good idea”

Another Saskatchewan resident who welcomes the expansion of booster dose eligibility is Nazeem Muhajarine, a professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan

He says autumn is coming and that means a return to school for children and young people.

Muhajarine believes a return from summer vacation means increased contact and a greater chance of COVID-19 spreading indoors.

“I think now is the time to expand the availability of the second booster… I think it’s a good idea because it’s about what’s at stake,” Muhajarine said.

He says increasing vaccination rates, along with a second booster shot, will help stem the spread of the virus.

It will also help protect people from getting severe COVID-19 symptoms and potentially ending up in the hospital.

Muhajarine encouraged provincial officials to spread the word of the eligibility expansion loud and wide and encouraged anyone who is able to get a second booster dose to do so as soon as possible.

‚ÄúThese boosters are an insurance policy for my health and well-being. It’s like an insurance policy,” he said.

“We buy insurance for our house, not because we expect it to burn down to the ground, but if it does, we’re protected.”

Pediatric COVID-19 vaccines remain available for children between the ages of six months and five years. Children in this age group are entitled to their first two doses.

The province says vaccination appointments are available through the SHA online or by phone, as well as through Indigenous Services Canada, the Northern Inter-tribal Health Authority and at some pharmacies and walk-in clinics.

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