Only 15% of Canadians have gotten a COVID booster shot this fall

Only 15% of Canadians have gotten a COVID booster shot this fall

Only 15% of Canadians have received the latest COVID booster shots this fall season, new government data show. 

The latest shots are meant to be specific to the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant of the virus that is still circulating. But while 83.7% of the Canadian population has received at least one dose of any COVID vaccine, only 14.6% got jabbed with the latest booster.

When divided among age groups, the percentage of those receiving the booster rose sharply. In all age groups up to and including 40-49 year olds, less than 10% of people had received the vaccine. At 50 years of age the numbers increase sharply, before rising up to 47.5% of those 80 and older receiving a booster. The vaccine is available to all those eligible starting at six months old. 

The province with the highest rate of XBB.1.5 vaccine uptake was British Columbia at 23.1%, while Ontario was the lowest at 11.5%, as of December 3.

Experts speaking with CBC suggested that the low rates could be due to “pandemic fatigue, muddled messaging and complex vaccination timelines.”

Dr. Allison McGeer, infectious diseases specialist at Sinai Health in Toronto, told the outlet that she thinks “people just aren’t getting the message about how much of a risk COVID is.”

“Then there’s the simple fact that so many people are tired of getting shot after shot, four years into the COVID pandemic,” the article reads. 

McMaster University immunologist and researcher Dawn Bowdish, another expert quoted by CBC, said fresh shots are necessary because there is no “magic” number of vaccines that will give a person long-term protection from the coronavirus. 

The CBC article warned that SARS-CoV-2 is still sending “hundreds of people into hospital with COVID every week.” As of December 12, the number of non-ICU hospital beds occupied by COVID patients was 4,528, with the number of ICU occupancies at 159. 

The government has thrown out at least 14.4 million doses of vaccines this year alone due to expiry dates. Approximately 12 million were discarded in 2022. 

Canada has been criticized for “hoarding” vaccine doses since early on in the pandemic. According to the National Post, the Liberals were boasting about securing more doses per capita than any other country by late 2020. Contracts negotiated by the government guaranteed access to up to 429 million doses of seven different vaccines, roughly 11 for every Canadian resident. 

The country’s auditor general later criticized the public health department’s “unsuccessful” efforts to minimize vaccine waste, which led to $1 billion worth of unneeded vaccines.

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