FREDERICTON (GNB) – Adults 50 and over in New Brunswick will soon be able to receive a second booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

“Vaccines are our best defence against COVID-19 and its variants by helping to protect against severe outcomes related to the virus,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “Expanding booster eligibility will provide an extra layer of protection against the Omicron and BA.2 variants. When you get a booster dose, you are increasing your protection and protecting those around you.”

The decision to make a second booster dose available is based on recently released initial guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), along with demographic, epidemiologic, chronic disease burden, and hospitalization data specific to New Brunswick. Public Health New Brunswick, in consultation with NACI, will continue to evaluate second booster doses for younger adults (under 50 years of age), adolescents aged 12 to 17, those living in other congregate or vulnerable settings, and those who work in vulnerable sectors, including health-care workers.

“Vaccination is the key element in a layered approach to protecting yourself against COVID-19,” said Russell. “It is important to continue to stay home when you are sick, get tested when you are experiencing symptoms, keep your number of close contacts low, and practise good hand hygiene.”

Public Health is strongly recommending a second booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine to individuals aged 70 and over and long-term care residents, as age is one of the highest risk factors for severe outcomes and hospitalization. First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over, as well as any New Brunswicker aged 50-69, can receive a second booster if it has been at least five months since their last dose. Anyone who has been recently infected with COVID-19 should wait three months before receiving a booster dose. For example, if it has been four months since a last dose, but a person is just recovering from COVID-19, they will have to wait an additional three months to receive their booster dose.

Second booster doses will be available beginning Tuesday, April 19, at participating pharmacies.

“Most New Brunswick pharmacies will continue to offer COVID-19 vaccinations, including second booster doses when they are available,” said Jake Reid, executive director of the New Brunswick Pharmacists Association. “Vaccination is the most important step you can take to help protect yourself against COVID-19. As the Omicron and BA.2 variants continue to circulate across the province, it is never too late for people to get vaccinated to help protect themselves, their families and their communities against COVID-19.”

More information about COVID-19 vaccines is available online.

Antiviral treatment for COVID-19 patients to be available for eligible New Brunswickers

The provincial government is making Paxlovid, an antiviral treatment for COVID-19 patients, more accessible.

“Effective Monday, April 11, COVID-19 patients who are at a high risk of severe outcomes can contact their primary care provider to be assessed for a prescription,” said Russell. “New Brunswickers know how to use public health measures to help prevent COVID-19. Now we have a way to reduce the severity of the infection in high-risk patients.”

Those at high risk of severe outcomes of COVID-19 include:

  • those 80 and older,
  • those who are immunocompromised,
  • those between 50 and 70 who are not fully vaccinated or who are living in a long-term care facility or a First Nations Community.

More information on eligibility requirements is available online.

Primary care providers can now provide prescriptions for Paxlovid which will be available at no cost. It can be taken at home but must be taken within five days of the onset of symptoms to optimize its effectiveness.

Russell said vaccination remains the best course of action to protect New Brunswickers from severe effects of COVID-19. However, she said, improving access to antiviral treatments like Paxlovid will further the fight against COVID-19 and provide another option for preventing severe outcomes.