What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Bivalent Vaccines



Now that Health Canada has approved use of the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, BC is preparing to deploy them to clinics in time for the fall booster campaign.

Many people who have had their first booster will by now be eligible for their next booster in order to maintain high levels of immunity against COVID-19 and its variant forms throughout the colder months when respiratory viruses more commonly spread.

Pharmacies and clinics are expected to have a supply of the bivalent vaccine by mid-to-late September.

Have questions about the bivalent vaccines or curious about what the term “bivalent" even means? Here are some answers to common questions about this new vaccine!

What is a bivalent vaccine?

The new vaccine developed by Moderna and approved by Health Canada—following a thorough and independent scientific review—targets not just the original COVID-19 virus, but also the Omicron variant that is found to spread more easily.

Clinical trial tests showed that this bivalent vaccine triggers a strong immune response against both the original virus strain and also Omicron subvariants.

It is important to note that all current vaccines are very effective at triggering a strong immune response against COVID-19 and all known variants, and that you do not need a bivalent vaccine to be protected against COVID-19.

Who can receive a bivalent vaccine? When can I get one?

Everyone who is 18 years of age and older can receive the bivalent vaccine, as well as those 12 to 17 who are at increased risk with specific medical conditions.

To be eligible to receive a booster you should have received your last dose more than six months ago and have not had a COVID-19 infection in the past three months.

Canada will receive 12 million doses of bivalent vaccine from Moderna, with provinces expected to receive shipments over the next few days in order to run clinics in September and throughout October.

How do I get registered for my booster?

If you live outside community or away-from-home, and you are eligible for a booster:

  • You must be registered via the Get Vaccinated provincial website.
  • Before Sept. 19, you may be directed by the province to a local pharmacy as pharmacies will receive the first shipments of bivalent vaccine.
  • During the week of Sept. 19, all regional health authorities will open mass immunization clinics, similar to how the first and second dose vaccines were administered in 2021.
  • You can find more information about how to get your booster dose here: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/booster

If you live in community (i.e., on reserve):

  • The FNHA supports First Nations communities to offer vaccine clinics. While intended for those who live in community, many communities also serve members who live out of community but nearby.
  • Check in with your community health centre to confirm when booster doses will be available in your community.

Are First Nations people prioritized for the vaccine?

We expect to have sufficient supply of the bivalent vaccine for all who wish to receive it this fall.

As well, Indigenous peoples are considered a priority for the bivalent vaccine due to risk factors for disease vulnerability.

I don't want a bivalent vaccine or a mRNA vaccine but I want to be protected against COVID-19. What are my options?

The bivalent uses mRNA technology—the same vaccine delivery method used safely in hundreds of millions of vaccinations worldwide.

However, for those who do not want a mRNA vaccine, the Novavax or Janssen vaccines are both available. When booking your appointment online, indicate a preference for one of these vaccines. You may also call 1-833-838-2323 and inform the agent during booking of your choice.


Video: Talk to a Doc with Dr. Shannon McDonald: Why You Should Get Your Booster Dose​​

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