Manitoba announces availability of Pfizer bivalent; expands eligibility

The Manitoba government announced on Thursday that it expects to receive the Pfizer bivalent vaccine by the end of the week, and that it is expanding the eligibility for the bivalent booster vaccine to anyone aged 12 and older.

In a news release, the province said once the bivalent vaccine arrives in Manitoba, it will be shipped to different clinics, pharmacies and vaccine sites across the province. Delivery dates may vary, so while it may be at some locations earlier, the Pfizer bivalent is expected to be at most vaccine sites by Oct. 24.

Those 18 and older can receive either the Moderna or Pfizer bivalent booster dose, while those aged 12 to 17 can only get the Pfizer bivalent as it is the only one approved for the age group.

To help make things simpler this fall, the Manitoba government is updating how vaccination appointments are booked through the online booking tool or call centre. Manitobans will be able to make a generic vaccination appointment and then will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, a seasonal flu vaccine or both at their appointment.

Appointments for the bivalent vaccine for people aged 12 to 17 will be available beginning on Friday at 9 a.m. through the online booking tool, by contacting the vaccine call centre at 1-844-626-822, or by contacting medical clinics and pharmacies directly.

The province recommends that when making a bivalent dose appointment for the 12 to 17 age group, you should make it for the week of Oct. 24 in order to ensure Pfizer is in stock.

Health Canada approved the use of the Pfizer bivalent vaccine earlier in the month. The Moderna bivalent is already available in Manitoba.

WHAT IS A BIVALENT BOOSTER DOSE?

Both the Moderna and Pfizer bivalent vaccines were developed to provide protection against two strains of COVID-19 – the original strain of the virus and the Omicron variant. Moderna protects against the Omicron BA.1 strain, while Pfizer protects against BA.4 and BA.5 strains.

Public Health recommends that those who are due for a booster get a bivalent vaccine as it gives a better immune response against Omicron. Manitoba notes that booster doses are important because protection against COVID-19 – either from infection or previous vaccinations – weakens over time.

The monovalent vaccines, which are the original mRNA vaccines designed to protect against the original strain of COVID-19, are still available as a fall booster for kids aged five to 11 and those who don’t want to receive a bivalent.

As of Wednesday, 55,109 doses of the bivalent vaccine have been administered in Manitoba and entered into the immunization registry.

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