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Quebec health officials expected to announce rollout of updated COVID-19 vaccine


Quebec public health officials are expected to announce today that the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron variant could be available as early as this week in the province. 

Dr. Luc Boileau, Quebec’s public health director, will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. He will be joined by the head of the Quebec Immunization Committee, Dr. Caroline Quach.

Health Canada formally approved Moderna’s updated COVID-19 vaccine last week for people age 18 and older. Sources tell Radio-Canada that Quebec expects to receive nearly three million doses of it.

The vaccine is a combination of two strains, also known as a bivalent vaccine. It is the first COVID-19 vaccine available in Canada that targets both the original virus and the Omicron variant BA.1 that emerged late last year and drove the largest wave of infection and hospitalization among Canadians in the pandemic.

Infectious diseases specialists and other experts are hopeful this updated vaccine will be more effective at preventing transmission than the original shots, but they also warn people not to expect it to be a silver bullet.

At a news conference last month, Boileau said the updated vaccine will replace the province’s current stock once it arrives. This is not because the original shot doesn’t do its job in preventing severe infection, he clarified. 

As part of Quebec’s mass vaccination campaign launched last month, health officials are recommending people receive a new dose of vaccine five months after their previous dose, regardless of the number of booster doses received to date.

People who have recently had a COVID-19 infection are asked to wait three months before getting the new shot.

Less than a quarter of Quebecers have received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the past five months, according to Radio-Canada. 


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