Health Canada has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster vaccine for Canadians ages 12 and up. Unlike the Moderna Bivalent vaccine, which was approved earlier this month, the vaccine targets the BA.4 and BA.5 strains of the Omicron variant, which makes up more than 90 percent of recent cases.
Health Canada officials and Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos will discuss the vaccine approval in detail later today.
According to the authorization, the Pfizer vaccine can be given three to six months after the most recent booster shot or after a second dose of the primary vaccine series. It’s the second combination vaccine that’s approved by Health Canada but is the first to target the variants that are now most common in the country.
The Moderna Bivalent vaccine, which was approved five weeks ago, targets the original virus as well as BA.1, the first Omicron variant to have been recorded.
Health Canada said in a media statement that the new Pfizer booster is expected to have a similar safety profile to the original vaccine with mild side effects.
Who Should Get the Vaccine?
All Canadians above the age of 65 should get the new Pfizer Bivalent vaccine. Those above the age of 12 who are at an elevated risk of severe illness should also get the shot.
Health Canada officials said those who have not had a vaccination for three months should get the shot. Those who haven’t had a booster in six months should also get the new vaccine as soon as possible.
However, those who have had a booster in the last three months should wait a little longer as it won’t be as effective if given so close to the date.
When Will the Pfizer Bivalent Booster Be Available?
The new Pfizer bivalent vaccine is expected to arrive sometime next week. According to Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Njoo, they have a contract for 12.6 million doses.
There are also over 10.5 million doses of the Modern B1 vaccine in the country.