Health Canada accredited on Thursday the usage of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster vaccine that targets the BA.4 and BA.5 strains of the Omicron variant.
The vaccine, which is accredited for folks at the least 12 years previous, may be given three to 6 months after a second dose of the first vaccine sequence, or the latest booster shot.
Health Canada mentioned the bivalent booster has already been given to almost 5 million folks in the United States and there have been no new security considerations.
“Canada could have sufficient provide of the Omicron-targeting bivalent vaccines to cowl the anticipated demand for fall boosters,” Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public well being officer, mentioned on Thursday.
Njoo mentioned individuals who already had a booster shot of the unique mRNA vaccines don’t have to get a bivalent booster.
“Evidence continues to point out that unique mRNA vaccines present good safety in opposition to critical sickness and hospitalization,” he mentioned.
It is the second mixture vaccine greenlighted by Health Canada’s vaccine assessment workforce, however the first that targets the virus strains that at the moment are most typical in Canada.
The Moderna mixture shot accredited 5 weeks in the past targets the unique virus and the primary Omicron variant, whereas the Pfizer shot targets the BA.4 and BA.5 strains. The Moderna vaccine is accredited for people who find themselves 18 and older.
Health Canada mentioned 88 per cent of the COVID-19 instances recognized in mid-September have been BA.5 and 9 per cent have been BA.4.
“We are beginning to see a rise in instances, we’re heading into the autumn season, there’s a whole lot of gatherings and festivals which might be taking place as nicely, so we all know that there is going to be rising circulating virus,” mentioned Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser.
If it has been lower than three months since a COVID-19 an infection or a booster, the brand new bivalent vaccine shouldn’t be really useful as a result of it is not going to be as efficient, Sharma mentioned.
Health Canada was already reviewing a BA.1 vaccine from Pfizer, however mentioned it selected to prioritize the newer vaccine as a result of it was anticipated to be in greater demand.
Officials say at this stage of the pandemic it’s difficult to know what variants could also be rising subsequent, however that Omicron appears to have probably the most endurance.
“There’s a little bit of a variant soup on the market proper now,” Sharma mentioned.
Uptake of booster vaccines has not been wherever close to as excessive because the preliminary vaccines. About 82 per cent of Canadians acquired two doses of a vaccine as of Sept. 11, however simply shy of fifty per cent have at the least one booster.
“We have a number of specialists behind the scenes taking a look at what alternative ways or what methods we will reinforce in phrases of giving the suitable info, not simply to the typical Canadian to be fairly sincere, but additionally to health-care suppliers and group leaders utilizing a number of platforms, so that folks on the finish of the day could make an knowledgeable determination,” Njoo mentioned.
He acknowledged there was vaccine fatigue over the previous two years, however mentioned he believes folks will begin to consider updating their COVID-19 vaccines in an identical approach to the annual flu shot.
“We definitely anticipate that we’ll improve and enhance uptake.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first printed Oct. 7, 2022.