As more than 1,000 community pharmacies across the province geared up to offer booster shots at the beginning of the year, many wondered how many British Columbians planned to immediately roll up their sleeve for extra protection.
Based on booking numbers and anecdotal information, the BC Pharmacy Association commissioned a public survey of adults to gauge their plans when it came to getting a third COVID vaccine.
The poll, conducted by Ipsos between Jan. 28 and Feb. 3, 2022, found more than half of those who have already received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine were not planning to make appointments to get their booster shots right away. Results showed that 56% of respondents who had already had two doses of COVID-19 vaccine said they were not planning to get their booster right away. Among this group nearly half said they would get the booster shot, but just not right away. The remainder were undecided or had chosen not to receive their boosters at all.
“That was very concerning,” said BCPhA President Jamie Wigston. “We wondered if people understood that six months after their last dose their immunity against COVID waned.”
Respondents said their top reasons for not getting their booster shots right away included thinking that two doses is enough (41%), concern about potential long-term effects (33%) and just wanting to get on with normal life (27%).
As of Mar. 25, 2022, B.C.’s community pharmacists have delivered more than 1.2 million COVID vaccines to those ages 12 and older. Community pharmacists have become the main location for patients seeking their booster doses as the province’s mass vaccination clinics wind down.
Fourth doses for those 70 and older kicked off in early and by mid-April, B.C.’s pharmacies began offering Novavax and Janssen vaccines to those who are unvaccinated and/or those who wish to receive a non-mRNA vaccine.
“We’re hoping that more and more British Columbians continue to book their appointments for a booster shot as soon as their eligible,” Wigston said. “We continue to tell patients, ‘Speak to your pharmacist about the booster doses.’ People know their community pharmacist is there for them. Our job as pharmacists is to encourage booster uptake and answer patient questions. We’re the experts.”