BC Launches Fall Vaccination Campaign With Omicron Specific Boosters

Some British Columbians have started receiving text messages to book a booster shot as the province’s fall COVID-19 vaccination campaign kicks off.

The campaign is being launched with a focus on vulnerable groups, including health professionals, clinically extremely vulnerable people, indigenous people and seniors.

And for the first time, a bivalent version of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine will be available for adults.

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“It is a vaccine specifically designed to be more effective against Omicron variants. It’s half and half — half the old vaccine, half the Omicron-specific vaccine,” said Dr. Brian Conway, medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Cenre.

“If you have any problems with the mRNA vaccine, Novavax and Johnson and Johnson (traditional compound) are also available if you let them know it’s your choice. There is no reason not to get vaccinated.”

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Youth ages 12 to 17 are offered the original formulations of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, while children ages five to 11 are offered the milder pediatric version of those vaccines.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that people receive the bivalent booster at least six months after their last dose or COVID-19 infection. However, people at higher risk may require an earlier dose.

Adults are eligible to book their bivalent booster as soon as they receive a direct text message, but teens can book at any time. The province said it has already sent 600,000 text messages and holds 400,000 doses of the new vaccines.

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Omicron-adapted COVID-19 vaccines: Can updated shots prevent a wave of fall?

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Pfizer’s version of a bivalent vaccine is expected to be approved by Health Canada later this fall, and the BC Department of Health says shipments could begin next week when the vaccine is green-lit.

From October, COVID injections will be given simultaneously with flu vaccines.

With COVID now endemic to Canada, BC’s health minister said, Conway said it’s likely fall booster shots — planned before the respiratory disease season — will likely become an annual event.

“The long term will likely be annual COVID shots. This is the first of them,” he said.

“Just like your flu shot changes every year, taking into account the flu strains we expect to see this coming winter.”

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