COVID-19: As the new wave hits Ottawa, everything you need to know about booster shots

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People over the age of 18 in Ontario are eligible to start receiving a bivalent booster dose of COVID-19 on Monday that targets the Omicron variant.

Another option for children six months to five years old is also available on Monday as the Pfizer vaccine rolls out. A Moderna shot has already been approved for this age group in the province.

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News of the vaccine comes as Ontario prepares for a possible surge of COVID-19 as schools have resumed and people move indoors this fall.

In Ottawa, virus levels are high and rising, Ottawa Public Health said in its latest update on Sept. 22.

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In its overview of indicators that illustrate the spread of COVID-19 in the city, OPH found that the percentage of positive tests and the number of outbreaks in hospitals, long-term care homes and other facilities are moderate but increasing. The number of people admitted to hospital, which lags behind the rise in infection, is moderate and unchanged from the previous week.

Ottawa appears to be entering another wave of COVID-19 just weeks after the last one ended. This assessment is based on data that tracks healthcare worker absences and the level of virus in sewage, said Dr. Doug Manuel, senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, recently. to this newspaper.

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“I would say there is a strong indication that we are in the fall wave of 2022.”

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As with recent waves, cases are projected to rise rapidly.

Manuel said the advent of a new pandemic wave follows a pattern that members of Ontario’s recently disbanded science advisory table expect to see in the future, with pandemic waves occurring frequently.

Their peaks should decrease over time, Manuel said, depending on new variants and other factors.

The province has removed most public health requirements that helped limit the spread of COVID-19 earlier in the pandemic, such as mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing and keeping children in cohorts at schools.

Isolation rules that helped prevent people with COVID-19 from spreading the virus have also been relaxed. People with COVID-19 can now return to work or school if they don’t have a fever and their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours. They are asked to wear a mask in public for 10 days from when their symptoms started.

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Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, has emphasized the importance of fighting COVID-19 by being aware of booster doses of the vaccine, which reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill, land in the hospital or die from the disease. Antiviral drugs are also available for more vulnerable people who contract COVID-19.

Although most adults in Ontario have received the first two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the number of people signing up for subsequent booster doses is lower.

Here’s what you need to know about boosters:

What is available for adults on Monday?

All adults 18 years and older can receive the bivalent booster dose. The bivalent was already available for the most vulnerable groups.

What is bivalent?

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The bivalent booster is a vaccine that has been modified to provide better protection against Omicron variants.

“The COVID-19 bivalent booster provides better protection against COVID-19 variants currently circulating in Ontario,” Moore said in a statement.

Previous versions of the vaccine were based on the original variant that caused COVID-19.

Does the bivalent booster target the Omicron variant?

The bivalent targets both the original 2019 virus and the Omicron BA.1 variant that dominated Ontario last winter and spring. But it also offers protection against the Omicron BA.5 variant that now dominates in the province.

Clinical trials showed that a booster dose of the bivalent vaccine elicited a “strong” immune system response against Omicron BA.1 and the original SARS-CoV-2 virus strain, and a “good response” against Omicron BA. 4 and BA.5 subvariants, Health Canada said.

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How soon after my last dose can I receive the bivalent booster?

The province recommends a booster six months (168 days) after your last dose. You are eligible for a booster regardless of how many other vaccine doses you have received.

Recommendations on recall intervals vary by province and jurisdiction.

Ontario residents can choose to receive their bivalent booster sooner – starting three months after their last dose. If you would like an earlier callback, you must book by phone.

What if I recently had COVID-19?

If you tested positive for COVID-19 in a rapid or lab test, health officials recommend waiting three months from when symptoms started or you tested positive before receiving a reminder.

How can I reserve a booster?

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Appointments are available for children and adults through the province’s online booking system. Or call: 1-833-943-3900.

Residents are encouraged to book appointments as walk-in visits are limited at community clinics in Ottawa.

Other places also offer vaccines, including some pharmacies, clinics for the Inuit population, mobile workplace vaccines, and Kids Come First Health Team clinics. Visit the Ottawa Public Health webpage here.

What’s new for the kids?

For children aged six months to under five years, a new Pfizer pediatric vaccine is available. The Moderna vaccine has already been approved for this age group.

The Pfizer vaccine is a three-dose series, with a recommended interval of eight weeks between doses.

Should Moderna and Pfizer vaccines be mixed for your child’s doses?

No. It’s not recommended, says the Ontario Ministry of Health. Your child should receive the same vaccine for their primary doses, whether Moderna or Pfizer.

This article is available for free – outside of our paywall – because we believe it is a matter of crucial public interest. If you would like to support us as we continue to provide journalism that matters to all Ottawans, please sign up:

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