On January 20, 2023, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) released initial considerations for 2023 COVID-19 vaccine booster doses from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). This guidance is based on current evidence, vaccine principles and NACI expert opinion.
There continues to be many uncertainties around the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the need for and timing of additional booster doses.
NACI is providing initial considerations for 2023 COVID-19 booster doses to help provinces and territories begin planning 2023 COVID-19 vaccine programs. NACI will continue to monitor COVID-19 activity and the duration of vaccine protection, particularly against severe outcomes, and will update vaccine recommendations as needed.
At this time, NACI is reinforcing existing fall 2022 booster dose recommendations. This means that individuals who were recommended to receive a booster in the fall of 2022 but did not, are recommended to receive a booster dose now.
NACI continues to recommend COVID-19 booster doses as follows:
- At least one booster dose should be offered to all adults 18 years of age and over and adolescents 12 to 17 years of age who are at increased risk of severe illness. (Strong NACI recommendation)
- This recommendation predates guidance issued in the fall of 2022. The individuals identified above who have not yet received any booster dose should receive one.
- All adults 65 years of age and older and individuals 5 to 64 years of age who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 should have received a booster dose since the start of fall 2022. For individuals who have not yet received a fall 2022 booster, it should be offered, as per the recommended interval. (Strong NACI recommendation)
- Individuals 5 to 64 years of age without risk factors for severe illness from COVID-19 may have been offered a booster dose since the start of fall 2022. Individuals who have not yet received a fall 2022 booster may still be offered one, as per the recommended interval. (Discretionary NACI recommendation)
- Bivalent Omicron-containing mRNA COVID-19 vaccines continue to be the preferred booster products for all individuals 5 years of age and over.
When COVID-19 booster doses are offered, they should be provided at an interval of 6 or more months after the last COVID-19 vaccine dose or infection.
Based on the variability of fall 2022 booster program start dates across jurisdictions, some individuals will have exceeded 6 months since receiving their fall booster dose later this winter. Currently, NACI is not issuing guidance on an additional booster dose for these individuals. NACI plans to continue to monitor the evidence and evolving epidemiology and provide updated guidance in the coming months.
For children 5 to 11 years of age, NACI is currently recommending only one booster dose after the primary series. At the discretion of a healthcare provider, a bivalent booster dose may be offered at the recommended interval to children considered at high risk of severe COVID-19 who have previously received a booster dose of the original Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine.
At this time, there are no booster dose products authorized for children 6 months up to 5 years of age and NACI is not making any booster dose recommendations for this age group.
- booster dose