COVID-19: should we still recommend vaccination to the entire population?

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COVID-19: should we still recommend vaccination to the whole population?

It is possible for the population of Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec aged five and over to receive a dose of vaccine against COVID-19 without making an appointment.

Quebec public health is to announce its COVID-19 vaccination strategy next week. Should we continue to target the entire population? Immunology experts believe not.

The Quebec Immunization Committee (CIQ) has sent its recommendations to public health.

They are considering whether the government should continue with its current strategy of recommending vaccination to the entire population, including people who are not necessarily at risk of complications, says Alain Lamarre, professor of immunology and virology at INRS.

However, the possibility of targeting the most vulnerable populations in particular could be retained. This is what the CIQ had recommended for bivalent vaccines, which have been available for several months in Quebec.

The arrival of Omicron still changed the vaccine's performance a lot in preventing infection, but the performance in preventing hospitalization remained good. This is why the CIQ focused on revaccination of people who were most at risk of being hospitalized, testified Dr. Gaston De Serre, member of the CIQ, Friday morning, without revealing its recommendations.

The elderly, people with health problems and those who have never been affected by COVID-19 should be particularly targeted. I expect it to be much the same. It's quite logical, says Alain Lamarre.

Alain Lamarre

People who have had COVID and who received the vaccine, which is called hybrid immunity, are well protected against serious illness and death. Adding a new dose every five to six months provides only marginal benefit in terms of protection against infection.

Same story for Dr. Karl Weiss, who points out that many countries are questioning the widespread vaccination of the population. The microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal also believes that the vaccination campaign has reached a stage of refinement.

Dr Karl Weiss

“The fact that we are moving out of the acute phase of the pandemic and into a kind of endemic is thanks to vaccination. During the acute part of the pandemic, when we were badly caught, we applied the same recipe to the entire population […] which was correct at this time in a context of planetary emergency . But that's not what we usually do in medicine. We do not vaccinate everyone according to the same criteria. »

— Dr. Karl Weiss, microbiologist and infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal

The expert recalls that immunity perfect for the population does not exist with COVID-19 and that we will have to live with the coronavirus. We know today that, for the majority of the population, three doses of vaccine is probably enough to prevent serious illness and probably in the fairly long term. We are going to have to have a species of vaccination with variable geometry depending on the groups we are going to target.

He believes that sporadic vaccination could be recommended for certain populations, including people aged 65 and over.

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