Collection of Covid19 bivalent vaccine vials

This Version Posted: September 20, 2022

Starting at 8:00 a.m. on September 12, 2022, bivalent COVID-19 booster appointments will be available to and can be booked for the most vulnerable populations, including:

  • Individuals aged 70 and over;
  • Residents of long-term care homes, retirement homes, Elder Care Lodges and individuals living in other congregate settings that provide assisted-living and health services;
  • First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over;
  • Moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals aged 12 and over;
  • Pregnant individuals aged 18 and over; and
  • Health care workers aged 18 and over.

To prioritize distribution to these populations, new booster appointments for Ontarians aged 18 and over will be paused until September 26. However, to allow for convenient planning and preparation, individuals 18 years of age and older who do not belong to a priority population can start booking their appointments today, the availability of which is based on shipment schedules and supply from the federal government. Appointments can still be booked through any available clinics for 6 months to 4 years primary series, as well as  5 to 11 and 12 to 17 booster doses. All previously-booked booster appointments for September 12 to 25 will be honoured and, if available, the bivalent vaccine will be offered.
 
Individuals can receive the bivalent booster at the recommended interval of at least six months from their previous dose, regardless of how many boosters they have already received.

The bivalent COVID-19 vaccine booster is highly recommended and will be replacing the original first, second and third booster doses as vaccine eligibility expands throughout the fall months.

What is the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine? How is it different from the current COVID-19 vaccines available? 

The bivalent COVID-19 vaccine is an updated version of the COVID-19 vaccine, that targets the original COVID-19 virus and the Omicron variant. 

A bivalent COVID-19 vaccine has been authorized by Health Canada for use as a booster dose. Since the bivalent vaccine is being offered as a booster dose, those who receive it must have already completed a primary series. 

Is the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine better than the current COVID-19 vaccines available? 

All Health Canada approved vaccines provide lasting protection against severe outcomes from COVID-19. 

The bivalent COVID-19 vaccine better protects against the most recently circulating COVID-19 variants in Ontario. That’s why the province will first offer bivalent COVID-19 boosters to the most vulnerable populations, who face a higher risk of severe illness from the virus and then make the bivalent vaccine available to the general population.  

As evidence shows that vaccine protection decreases over time, all Ontarians aged 18 and over are encouraged to stay up to date with their vaccinations. 

If I am aged 18 and over, can I get the bivalent vaccine as part of my primary vaccine series? 

No. Currently, the COVID-19 bivalent vaccine is only authorized for use as a booster dose. Eligible Ontarians will need to have completed a full primary series with the original vaccine before being able to receive the bivalent vaccine as a booster. 

How did the government determine which groups would be offered the bivalent booster first? 

The bivalent COVID-19 vaccine protects against the most recently circulating COVID-19 variants in Ontario. 

Based on guidance from the federal government and NACI, Ontario will first offer bivalent COVID-19 boosters to the most vulnerable populations, who face a higher risk of severe illness from the virus compared to the general population. This is a result of receiving smaller, limited, initial shipments of bivalent vaccines from the federal government.  

When can children and youth aged five to 17 expect to be eligible to receive a bivalent vaccine as their booster? 

Moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals aged 12 to17 will be eligible to receive a bivalent vaccine as their booster beginning Monday, September 12. 

Ontario is expecting to offer an additional bivalent COVID-19 vaccine to all individuals aged 12 and over as a booster, pending authorization from Health Canada and recommendations by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).  

Currently, no vaccine manufacturers have submitted a proposal to Health Canada for a bivalent booster dose under the age of 12. 

Should I wait for the bivalent Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be authorized instead of getting the bivalent Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as my booster? 

People should get the first bivalent booster vaccine that is offered. 

Health Canada has one of the most rigorous scientific review systems in the world and only approves a vaccine if it is safe, works and meets the highest manufacturing and quality standards. After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, Health Canada determined that the authorized bivalent Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective at providing a strong immune response against COVID-19 and in particular, the Omicron variant.  

How long should I wait after receiving my last dose before getting the bivalent booster? 

Eligible individuals may get the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine at a recommended interval of six months, or at a minimum interval of three months, after receiving their last dose.  

How long should I wait after getting COVID-19 to get the bivalent booster? 

Evidence shows that vaccination combined with infection provides stronger and longer-lasting protection from COVID-19 than infection alone. With the spread of new and transmissible variants, it is important that everyone gets vaccinated to protect themselves and those around them from serious illness, hospitalization and death. 

If you have had COVID-19, you should wait a minimum of three months (84 days) after symptom onset or positive test (if you had no symptoms) to receive your booster dose; however, a six-month (168 day) interval may provide better immune response. 

If you have questions about COVID-19 vaccines, please contact your primary care provider, or the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired: 1-866-797-0007), which is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and capable of providing assistance in more than 300 languages. 

How long should I wait in between receiving my bivalent booster and flu shot? 

Individuals aged five and over may receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as, or at any time before or after non-COVID-19 vaccines, including the influenza vaccine. 

 How many doses of the bivalent vaccine is Ontario expecting to receive from the federal government and when? 

Ontario has received 306K doses of the bivalent vaccine from the federal government. An additional 2.6M doses have been confirmed by the federal government and are expected to arrive in Ontario by the week of September 26.  

Additional doses and timelines will continue to be confirmed, but Ontario is expecting to receive enough doses of the bivalent vaccine for all Ontarians who want to receive a booster. 

If I don’t want the bivalent booster, can I request the original vaccine? 

The updated bivalent vaccine better protects against the most recently circulating COVID-19 variants in Ontario. 

Health Canada has one of the most rigorous scientific review systems in the world and only approves a vaccine if it is safe, works and meets the highest manufacturing and quality standards. After a thorough and independent scientific review of the evidence, Health Canada determined that the authorized bivalent vaccine is safe and effective at providing a strong immune response against COVID-19.  

However, individuals who wish to receive the original COVID-19 vaccine can request to do so at the vaccine site.  

Have the long-term side effects of the COVID-19 bivalent vaccine been determined? 

The updated bivalent vaccine has a similar safety profile to the original vaccine, with the same mild adverse reactions that resolved quickly. 

The benefits of getting vaccinated and being protected against COVID-19 far outweigh the risks of any side effects from the vaccine. COVID-19 infection may cause longer-lasting symptoms and health problems for some people, which is why it is important that individuals stay up to date with their vaccinations. 

What does it mean to be up to date with my vaccinations? 

You are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations if you have completed your primary series of the vaccine and, if you are aged five and older, it has been less than six months since your last dose. 

A completed primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine can include:  

  • two doses of Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Novavax, Medicago, AstraZeneca, including COVISHIELD, in any combination, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson; or 
  • a full or partial primary series of a non-Health Canada authorized vaccine plus any additional recommended doses of a Health Canada authorized COVID19 vaccine to complete the primary series 

Individuals should receive all recommended doses for their age, including booster doses if they are eligible, to stay up to date with their COVID19 vaccinations. 

Why has Ontario updated its recommendations on when to receive a COVID-19 booster dose? What is the new recommendation? 

The province’s updated booster guidance now recommends that all Ontarians aged five and older stay up to date with their vaccinations and receive a booster dose at an interval of six months since their last dose. 

These recommendations are due to evidence showing that vaccine protection decreases over time. 

Staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations will provide Ontarians with an extra layer of protection to manage COVID-19 and the respiratory illness season this fall. 

Why did the province recently recommend a booster interval of five months for individuals aged 18 and over? What has changed? 

The province is making the eligibility requirements for booster doses less complex. By making all Ontarians aged five and over eligible for a booster dose after the same length of time, it will be easier for the public and vaccinators to understand when individuals are eligible for their next doses. This interval has been recommended by NACI, as evidence has shown that protection from vaccination remains after six months. 

Who is now eligible to receive a booster dose?  

Ontarians aged five and over are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster dose.