By Kenyon Stronski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
As of Jan. 20, immunocompromised Albertans will be eligible for a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as long as they are 18 years and older who have specific immunocompromising conditions. This eligibility begins five months after receiving their third dose and can be booked either online or by calling 811.
“We remain committed to protecting Albertans from the Omicron variant, and vaccinations continue to be our best tool in preventing sever outcomes,” said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.
It is important to note the lower severity of the Omicron variant may be in part due because of vaccinations, but also because of the variant itself.
“We continue to rely on the latest research to guide our decision-making and with the evidence showing immunocompromised individuals benefit from a fourth dose, we are pleased to provide them,” he continued.
Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, had commented earlier on how a third dose is equivalent to a second dose to a immunocompromised individual.
“Individuals with certain immunocompromising conditions can benefit from a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose. With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant we want to provide these Albertans with additional protection against the virus,” said Hinshaw.
Conditions that qualify an individual for a fourth dose are as follows:
– Transplant recipients, including solid organ transplants and hematopoietic stem cell transplants.
– Individuals with malignant hematologic disorders and non-hematologic malignant solid tumors prior to receiving or receiving active treatment (chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy or having received previous COVID-19 vaccines while on active treatment), excluding individuals receiving solely hormonal therapy, radiation therapy or a surgical intervention.
– Individuals being treated with an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody such as Rituximab.
– Individuals with chronic kidney disease on dialysis.
– Recipients of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell therapy.
– Individuals with moderate to severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
– Individuals with Stage 3 or advanced HIV infection and those with acquired COVID-19 immunization.
– Individuals undergoing immunosuppressive therapies (e.g., anti-B cell therapies, high-dose systemic corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, or tumornecrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and other biologic agents).
– Individuals on certain medications for autoimmune diseases, including rituximab, ocrelizumab and ofatumumab.
Additionally, everyone that is 18 or older and has had both of their initial shots are eligible for a third dose five months after their second.