By Brendan O'Brien
(Reuters) - Canadian health officials on Tuesday authorized Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron subvariant, urging all Canadians over the age of six months to get fresh inoculations as the nation sees an uptick in infections.
Health Canada said in a statement that it has determined that the Moderna SPIKEVAX COVID-19 vaccine targeting the Omicron XBB.1.5 vaccine meets the department’s stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements.
"We are absolutely encouraging people to get protected both with COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot," Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said during a news conference after the announcement, adding that Canadians can expect to start receiving the new shots in the beginning of October.
The announcement comes as COVID-19 activity indicators continue to increase, the department said on its website, noting that the nation saw a spike in the number of hospitalizations during the first week of September.
"Vaccination continues to be one of the most effective ways to protect ourselves against COVID-19," it said.
It said those who have not received a vaccine or a booster dose within the last six months should do so. Anyone aged five years and older should receive one dose of the Moderna vaccine, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccine history, the department said.
Children between six months and four years of age should receive two doses if they have not been previously vaccinated, or one dose if they have been previously vaccinated, it said.
On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized updated COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna as well as from Pfizer/BioNTech.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago, editing by Deepa Babington)