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Omicron vaccine available to most in B.C. by end of October, say Dix and Bonnie Henry

VICTORIA — British Columbia's top doctor and health minister say most residents should expect to be able to receive a booster vaccine targeting Omicron variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 this month or in October. Dr.
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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks during a COVID-19 update in the press theatre at the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, March 10, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

VICTORIA — British Columbia's top doctor and health minister say most residents should expect to be able to receive a booster vaccine targeting Omicron variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 this month or in October. 

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement Thursday the province was set to begin distributing doses of Moderna's newly approved vaccine as soon as supply arrived, with more information coming next week.

Health Canada approved the so-called "bivalent" vaccine earlier Thursday. 

Henry and Dix described the shot as being more effective at protecting people from serious illness caused by Omicron, the most common variant of COVID-19 currently circulating in B.C. It also targets earlier strains of the virus.

Moderna is providing Canada with 12 million doses of the vaccine, and they say B.C. officials will work with the federal government to ensure the province's supply.

Officials would provide further information about timing and eligibility for the shots on Sept. 6, Henry and Dix said. 

They said the vaccine would arrive over several weeks and shots would be available at health-authority clinics and pharmacies.

“Once the supply arrives, we are all set to begin distribution. We expect the vaccines to come over several weeks and most people should be able to get one in September or October," they said.

Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said Thursday that previous vaccines were less effective on the Omicron variant than previous strains.

Health Canada says in its approval of the vaccine that data shows it induces a similar immune response to the original strain of the COVID-19 virus and significantly higher responses to the Omicron BA. 1 variant, when compared with the earlier version of the Moderna vaccine.

Omicron subvariants currently represent more than 90 per cent of the virus circulating in Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada data shows.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2022.

The Canadian Press