On Monday, Sept. 12, Public Health Sudbury & Districts announced that Moderna’s new bivalent mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is now available for some eligible groups in the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts, and by Sept. 26 will be available for anyone over 18 who has completed their primary vaccine series of two doses.
The bivalent vaccine is designed to offer protection against COVID-19 infection, including the Omicron variant.
Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health for PHSD, is encouraging those eligible to get their booster dose of the vaccine.
“Many people have not received a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose, or it has been more than six months since their last vaccination.” This fall is a time when COVID-19 cases are expected to rise.
“Getting a fall bivalent booster dose will increase your immunity at a time when COVID-19 cases are expected to increase, along with other respiratory diseases. Booster doses are safe, and they work.”
From Sept. 12 to 25, the vaccine is reserved for those who are at a higher risk of severe illness from the coronavirus, as well as health care workers. By Sept. 26, it is expected that there will be sufficient vaccine supplies to offer the vaccine to everyone aged 18 and older.
Groups currently eligible are residents of long-term care, retirement homes, elder care lodges, individuals living in other congregate settings that provide assisted living and health services; people aged 70 years and older; those who are 12 years and older with moderately to severely immunocompromising conditions; adults 18 years and older who identify as First Nation, Inuit, and Metis as well as non-indigenous members of their household who are 18 and older; pregnant individuals who are aged 18 and older; and health care workers who are aged 18 and older.
On Sept. 26, that eligibility will extend to anyone over the age of 18, “who has, at a minimum, completed their primary COVID-19 vaccine series (in general, two doses) regardless of the number of booster doses received.”
They will be eligible to book an appointment for clinics at that time. There will also be a limited number of walk-in appointments for the bivalent vaccine for this group from Sept. 26 and beyond.
There are some recommendations when it comes to receiving the bivalent vaccine. Public health still advises an interval of six months between receiving a previous COVID-19 vaccine and this new vaccine. However, “Individuals can choose to get their booster dose after a minimum of three months, with informed consent. A longer time between doses may result in a better immune response to the subsequent dose.” They also suggest that people wait six months after a COVID-19 infection to get their next dose, although it is still possible to receive the vaccine after a three-month interval, with informed consent.
Public health also stresses that older adults and people with underlying illnesses should receive a bivalent booster dose as soon as possible, regardless of the number of doses they have previously received. The Moderna bivalent Omicron-containing mRNA COVID-19 vaccine is preferred for fall booster shots over the original monovalent mRNA vaccines for adults aged 18 and older. Those who are receiving their flu shot can also get it at the same time as they receive the bivalent booster doses or other COVID-19 vaccines.
The original monovalent vaccine will still be available for children aged five and older who require a booster shot. It is also the vaccine recommended for all individuals aged six months and older, who cannot receive the bivalent dose.
Appointments can be booked online after Sept. 26 by visiting covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine or by calling 705-522-9200 (toll-free: 1-866-522-9200) between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday. Visit phsd.ca to learn more about current COVID-19 vaccine eligibility and timing of doses.