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B.C. to deliver Omicron-targeting vaccine to residents

Health Canada today approved a new Moderna's vaccine to fight COVID-19
A health worker readies to provide a dose of vaccine | Getty Images / Imaginestock

B.C. is set to distribute Moderna's Omicron-targeting COVID-19 vaccine to residents older than 18 years as soon as the province receives doses, government officials said this morning. 

Health Canada today authorized officials to use the country's first variant-targeting COVID-19 booster shot, one day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did the same thing. 

"We are ready to deliver it to people in B.C. as soon as we get it," B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a joint statement.

"We expect the vaccines to come over several weeks and most people should be able to get one in September or October."

Dix and Henry said Moderna is providing 12 million doses to Canada, and that the province is working with Ottawa to ensure a stable supply for British Columbians.

The vaccine is described as being "biovalent," which means that it targets two different antigens, or strains of disease.

"These booster vaccines cover the original and the Omicron variants, so are better adapted and more effective at protecting people against the Omicron variant, which is the most common right now in our province," they said.

Moderna had been seeking Health Canada approval since June 30.

The B.C. government then held a press conference in early July to say that its main campaign to provide fourth doses of vaccine, or second booster shots, would ramp up in September

"If you really feel that you've got special circumstances, you can give the call centre a call, and we'll arrange for you to have a booster," said Dr. Penny Ballem at the time, referring to a vaccine that was engineered to fight the original strain of COVID-19. Ballem is leading the province's roll-out of vaccines.

Health officials in July pleaded with residents to get all doses of vaccine for which they are eligible. 

Health Minister Adrian Dix at the time said that those 12 and older who have had third doses of the vaccine will be eligible for fourth doses once they have gone 182 days after their third dose.

Health Canada, however, has so far only approved Moderna's new vaccine for people aged 18 years and older.

More information on B.C.'s plan for distribution is set to come September 6. •