BC rapid testing: Thousands sign petition to improve access | CTV News – CTV News Vancouver

Some medical experts are calling for greater access to COVID-19 booster shots and rapid antigen tests to offer B.C. residents greater protection this holiday season.
The province is planning to roll out booster doses for the entire adult population in the next six to eight months. Those over age 65 started receiving invitations to book booster appointments last week, with more being sent this week. Those under 65 will start receiving booking invitations in January.
But Dr. Brian Conway, medical director at the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre, believes the age-based approach isn’t what’s needed for the booster rollout.
“Given new variants, community-based spread increasing and the like, we should have more flexibility in the program to allow people who may have specific medical conditions, people who got their vaccine early on, to get their booster sooner,” Conway said.
He’s also advocating for more emphasis to be placed on the general population getting a booster shot.
“Let’s announce, admit, say, state, that everyone’s going to get a booster at some point, so everyone can get ready for it,” he said, adding that some people who have received two shots may believe they are fully protected.
“When you were told that, that was true,” Conway said. “But this is COVID world and things evolve. We have new variants. We have sustained, community-based spread.”
There’s also a grassroots movement calling for greater access to rapid antigen testing. Dr. Dalia Hasan from Kitchener, Ont., started the twitter account COVID Test Finders, helping locate rapid testing kits and advocate for wider use of them.
“This is a critical public health tool to be able to get us back to our pre-pandemic lives,” Hasan said.
Currently, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan offer rapid testing kits to the general public for free. Access to the tests in other provinces varies.
As of Sunday, a petition calling for the B.C. government to offer free rapid antigen testing to every household in the province had gathered more than 12,000 signatures in just six days.
“Support from B.C. is tremendous,” Hasan said. “There is a clear demand to want to safeguard the public.”
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has described B.C.’s approach to rapid antigen tests as an “evolving issue.”
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