Eligible adults in Alberta can start booking their appointments to receive a bivalent COVID-19 booster vaccine in a week, Alberta Health announced Wednesday.
On Sept. 1, Health Canada formally approved the Moderna Spikevax bivalent booster vaccine for use in adults. It targets the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — and the more transmissible Omicron BA.1 variant, and provides a strong immune response to the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.
Starting Sept. 21, Albertans aged 18 or older can book an appointment for the bivalent booster dose. Administration would start the same day, a provincial news release said.
To be eligible in Alberta, adults must have completed a primary series of vaccination and at least five months must have passed since receiving their last dose or COVID-19 infection, the province's news release said.
Individuals who have received previous booster doses can receive the bivalent booster at least five months after their last dose or most recent COVID-19 infection.
People who may be at higher risk of severe outcomes, if they were to contract COVID-19, may be considered for a three-month interval between vaccine doses.
The vaccine will be available at participating pharmacies and community medical clinics, as well as Alberta Health Services clinics. People living in a First Nation can access doses through nursing stations or public health clinics on reserve.
People can book their appointments online or by calling Health Links at 8-1-1.
Bivalent COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be available for Albertans aged 12 to 17 in late September or early October, the release said.
Starting the week of Oct. 3, the booster — along with the flu shot — will be offered to residents of seniors' congregate care facilities, it added.
Alberta COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations up this week
The number of Albertans who have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began is up to 4,848, an increase of 16 deaths since last week, provincial data shows.
Meanwhile, there are more hospital and intensive care unit patients with COVID-19 in Alberta than there were a week ago.
As of Monday, there were 819 hospital patients with COVID-19, including 26 in ICU. There were 799 people in hospital, including 20 ICU patients, last week.
Alberta's seven-day PCR test-positivity rate is 16.94 per cent, up from 16.68 per cent a week ago.
During the latest reporting week, Sept. 6-12, public health officials confirmed 1,098 new COVID-19 cases through PCR testing — 14 more cases than the previous reporting week.
There is believed to be more virus circulating in the community, however, as the provincial data excludes positive rapid test results and few Albertans are eligible to receive a PCR test.
As of Monday, 77.7 per cent of all Albertans, including people who are ineligible, have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, while 82.1 per cent of the population has at least one dose — each increasing by 0.1 percentage points from the previous week.
Of Alberta's entire population, 39.4 per cent had received three doses of vaccine, up 0.1 percentage points from last week.