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Pharmacist Mario Linaksita administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Sharon Berringer, 56, at University Pharmacy in Vancouver on April 1.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

British Columbia’s health minister says the province is “ahead of the curve” on recommendations by a national advisory group that Canadians ages 50 and older get a COVID-19 booster.

Adrian Dix says his ministry announced weeks ago that it would start its booster program and already 470,000 people have had a third shot.

B.C. reported 405 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, along with six deaths, to bring the active case count to 3,071.

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The recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization gives provinces and territories the go-ahead to expand the limited booster shot campaign.

Dix says B.C. ramped up plans to accommodate a surge for third doses after many residents received second shots in July and August, putting the six-month time frame for a booster in January and February.

He says those living and working in all long-term care and seniors facilities have had a booster and almost half of those 70 and over have received a third shot.

Dix says most of those who have had their third shot have done so within the six-month time limit suggested by the national committee.

“I’m very pleased with how it’s going, practically speaking. The fact that Ontario and Alberta have announced more recently what their plans are, and we put our plan in place some time ago, is great. I think their plans align with what we are doing as well.”

Dix says the value of the third shot is evident by the declining number of outbreaks in seniors facilities, which dropped to two on Friday from 23 on Nov. 1.

However, the Health Ministry said later Friday that one more seniors lodge had been added to the list for outbreaks, bringing to three such facilities taking extra precautions because of the infection.

St. Paul’s and Ridge Meadows hospitals also have COVID-19 outbreaks.

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