Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Dr. Penny Ballem, head of B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, announce that pharmacies are taking part in the province’s booster campaign, Dec. 14, 2021. (B.C. government photo)

B.C. reduces isolation time to 5 days for mild COVID-19 symptoms

Booster vaccines offered to most 6 months after second dose

Faced with a surge of absent staff in health care and other jobs, B.C.’s health ministry is shortening the self-isolation period for vaccinated people with mild COVID-19 symptoms from 10 days to five.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie said Friday that the surge in cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has shown that it becomes transmissible within one or two days, but also subsides more quickly. Vaccinated people with symptoms can resume activities after five days if their symptoms are easing. But those who still feel unwell or have a fever should stay in isolation for 10 days, the same as unvaccinated people.

Dr. Penny Ballem, head of B.C.’s vaccination program, said the booster dose program has expanded to 720 locations as of Dec. 31, and sports arenas, convention centres and other community facilities are being reactivated for vaccination clinics. The call centre at 1-833-838-2323 will be closed on New Year’s Day but will resume operation on Sunday, Jan. 2.

Ballem said the expansion of the booster campaign has allowed the program to offer invitations to people 60 and older by next week. There are 240,000 people who have received invitations but have not yet booked a booster shot, and she encouraged them search online for clinic spaces farther from home.

“Often if it’s not available within 10 km it’s available at 11 km,” Ballem said.

Booster doses for the 300,000 B.C. residents who received AstraZeneca vaccine are continuing to be offered, regardless of age, as the immune response to that vaccine has been shown to decline earlier than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that are being administered for third doses.

B.C. health authorities continue to operate scheduled appointment COVID-19 vaccination clinics around the province for residents age five and older. Registration and booking appointments in B.C. can be done online here, or by calling 1-833-838-2323 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week.

RELATED: B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases soar past 4,000 Thursday

RELATED: Omicron surge overwhelms B.C. testing, contact tracing


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