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Experts worry messaging may hinder fourth-dose uptake

Nova Scotia's health minister says the province is preparing for the rollout of a second COVID-19 booster shot
022421 - covid vaccine - pfizer
A nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine to be administered today, Feb. 24, at the first clinic in a First Nation community in Nova Scotia

TORONTO — Some experts worry government messaging about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic may stymie uptake of fourth vaccine doses.

Eligibility for fourth doses is expanding in some provinces after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended people 70 and over get a second booster.

Ontario is opening up fourth-dose appointments for residents 60 and older starting Thursday, while Quebec will do the same next week and several other provinces are making the shots available to older demographics.

But Dr. Kelly Grindrod, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy, says it will be hard to convince people to get an extra shot when they believe the pandemic is over.

She says mask mandates being dropped and repeated reassurances from government officials about hospital capacity being high could give many residents the impression there's nothing to worry about.

Dr. Dawn Bowdish, an immunologist and professor at McMaster University, says current public health indicators suggest concerning trends, from increasing hospitalizations to wastewater monitoring that indicates high cases.

Bowdish says getting boosted is of utmost importance for those who are vulnerable to severe disease. 

Meanwhile, Nova Scotia's health minister says the province is preparing for the rollout of a second COVID-19 booster shot.

Michelle Thompson says more information should be available by the end of this week or start of next week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2022.

The Canadian Press with files from CityNews Halifax

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