New batch of vaccines available in Ontario this fall
Published Thursday, September 14, 2023 5:57AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 14, 2023 10:53AM EDT
Ontarians will be able to get their flu shot as of Oct. 30 and a new COVID-19 vaccine will become available sometime this month.
In a news release issued Thursday morning, the government said that Ontarians are encouraged to stay up to date on their vaccinations.
Individuals who are vulnerable or at high risk of infection, including seniors in long-term care and hospital staff, will begin to get their flu shots this month.
Everyone else will be able to get their dose starting in November from their family doctor, public health unit or participating pharmacy.
The ministry of health says the province expects to start receiving doses of Moderna’s updated COVID-19 vaccine, which was recently approved by Health Canada, later in September.
The new vaccine better protects against the new Omicron XBB variant and is approved for people over the age of six months.
The province says initial doses will be prioritized for higher-risk populations. More details on this timeline will be provided at a later date.
Speaking with CP24, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said Ontario can expect about 300,000 doses of the new vaccine “in the coming days.”
“Our priority at present given the limited supply that we have is really those that are most predisposed to an at-risk, severe outcome,” he said.
“But as the vaccine becomes more available later in October and November, we absolutely would call upon others to come forward, if it's been more than six months, to protect yourselves, your family, and your community against any adverse events from COVID and or influenza.”
He noted that the new influenza vaccine had a strong efficacy rate during the southern hemisphere’s flu season.
NEW RSV VACCINE FOR SENIORS
Ontario will roll out its first publicly funded Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine for adults aged 60 and up. This vaccine—called Arexvy—was approved by Health Canada in August.
The ministry of health says that individuals living in long-term care homes, Elder Care Lodges and retirement homes will be the first to get the shot.
It’s unclear when the vaccine will roll out for the general public as little guidance has been rolled out. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is not expected to issue its recommendations on RSV vaccination for older adults until 2024.
As such, the federal government has said it’s up to each province and territory whether to include it in their vaccination plans.
These announcements appear to be part of the province’s “fall preparedness plan” ahead of the respiratory illness season. They come as the province further proposes an expansion of pharmacists’ responsibilities, allowing them to prescribe flu medication, give flu shots to babies, and administer RSV vaccines.
This will allow pharmacists to be hired to enter long-term care or retirement facilities to add to the rollout of Arexvy, the province said.
Pharmacists have been able to administer flu shots to people as young as two years old since 2020, but for children under that age, parents have had to go to a family doctor or clinic.