It seems inevitable that the provincial government will change its definition of “fully vaccinated” to include a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine. With the advantage of QR code technology, this could be done quite easily.
Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead for Manitoba’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, said this week that there were no immediate plans to change the definition as it relates to provincial public health orders. But she said it was not ruled out.
Currently, Manitobans are required to prove they have at least two doses of the vaccine to enter public places such as bars, restaurants, movie theaters and gymnasiums. In most cases, customers must show their government-issued QR codes (either on their mobile device or on their paper wallet card). This technology allows the province to change the definition of “fully” vaccinated without issuing new codes.
“The Manitoba card was designed so that if the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ changed (for example, boosters or a different vaccine), the QR code (physical or digital) would continue to be valid and a replacement would not is not necessary,” said a provincial spokesperson. confirmed in a press release.
“Fully vaccinated” could be defined as anyone with up-to-date vaccination status. This can vary depending on age or when someone got their second injection. Information could be updated automatically on individual QR codes and displayed while scanning.
This flexibility would be important because not everyone is eligible for a third dose, depending on their age or when they received their second injection. Some people are only getting their second dose now or plan to do so in the coming weeks. Those who do will have good protection against the coronavirus for weeks to come.
Being up to date on vaccines could mean a recent second dose or a third injection after a certain period of time, such as six months. In this scenario, it would be up to the individuals to get their booster dose within the prescribed time frame. Failure to do so would appear on their codes.
This would not be difficult to schedule since the province’s database contains vaccination dates for all Manitobans.
Given this technology, public health could phase in age-based third-dose requirements to reflect risk of severe disease. Because older Manitobans are at greater risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, the province could start by requiring anyone over a certain age (such as 50 or 60) to receive a third dose six months after a second injection for consideration. fully vaccinated. Under-18s, who are still not eligible for a third shot, could be considered up to date after two.
Vaccination proof requirements are unlikely to be phased out anytime soon. Vaccine data from Manitoba, Canada and around the world continues to show that people who are fully vaccinated – especially those who receive a third dose – are less likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 than those who do not. are not vaccinated.
Vaccines do not protect against infection with the Omicron variant as well as previous strains. However, over the past six weeks in Manitoba, unvaccinated people were still three times more likely to end up in hospital and 11 times more likely to require intensive care than those who received at least two doses. Between November 22 and January 2, people who received two doses were four times more likely to end up in hospital than those who received three injections.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States released a new report on Thursday showing that unvaccinated Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 were 44 times more likely to be hospitalized than those receiving a third dose. The hospitalization rate for unvaccinated people over the age of 65 was 49 times higher than for people who received the third vaccine.
The province would likely give Manitobans a warning before changing the definition of fully vaccinated. As of Friday, only 37% of eligible Manitobans had received a third injection. This number would likely increase rapidly if a third dose was needed to achieve full immunity. Given the impact of third doses on preventing hospitalizations and deaths (and the likelihood of more unpredictable variations in the future), updating the definition would seem like the next logical step in the fight against the disease. COVID-19.
Tom has covered Manitoba politics since the early 1990s and joined the Winnipeg Free Press news team in 2019.
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