Updated COVID-19 vaccine, flu vaccine available Oct. 16

by | Oct 5, 2023

Appointments can be booked online or by calling or visiting a participating pharmacy beginning Oct. 6

People across New Brunswick will soon be able to book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine so long as they have not received a dose or been infected with it over the past six months.

Health Canada recently approved updated Moderna- and Pfizer-manufactured COVID-19 vaccines for people six months and older, specifically targeting the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant.

The Moderna vaccine, approved last month, will be available to New Brunswickers starting on Oct. 16. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are expected to be available in late October or early November.

These vaccines contain the same ingredients as previous versions, except the formula has been updated to target the XBB.1.5 strain rather than the previous B.A.4 and B.A.5 strains – much like the seasonal influenza vaccine changes from year to year.

While the first vaccines will not be administered until Oct. 16, appointments can be booked online or by calling or visiting a participating pharmacy beginning on Oct. 6.

Public Health recommends that all New Brunswickers aged six months or older receive an updated vaccine if they have not received a dose or had a COVID-19 infection in the past six months.

Getting the updated vaccine is strongly recommended for:

  • People aged 65 and older.
  • People who are pregnant.
  • People with underlying medical conditions that place them at higher risk of COVID complications, including those who are immunocompromised.
  • People living in long-term care facilities include nursing homes, special care homes, or adult residential facilities.
  • People who work in health care, particularly those who have direct contact with patients and other caregivers.
  • People who are of First Nations, Métis or Inuit descent.

“As we know, COVID-19 continues to circulate in New Brunswick, and across the globe, we are asking New Brunswickers to stay up to date with their vaccines,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “In New Brunswick, nearly all circulating COVID strains are of the XBB family, so the updated vaccines are designed to offer improved protection compared to previous COVID vaccines.”

Russell said both vaccines are safe and provide similar levels of protection. Anyone choosing to delay their COVID-19 vaccinations should carefully consider their risks and perhaps consult their primary care provider.

In addition, New Brunswickers are encouraged to make appointments for their influenza and pneumococcal vaccines, which can be administered simultaneously as a COVID-19 vaccine.

Influenza vaccines will also be available from participating immunizers starting on Oct. 16.

Russell said anyone 65 and older should also consider rolling up their sleeve for the pneumococcal vaccine.

“We know that COVID activity has increased slightly in recent weeks, and we expect that to continue through the respiratory illness season. Getting one of the updated vaccines and the influenza and pneumococcal immunizations will help reduce the risk of severe illness,” said Russell. “And to make it convenient, eligible citizens can consider getting these vaccines at the same time.”

The New Brunswick Medical Society is encouraging people to take advantage of these vaccine opportunities.

“With respiratory illness season now upon us, I encourage New Brunswickers to take steps to reduce their risks of severe illness and complications,” said Dr. Paula Keating, the society’s president. “Vaccines are effective, and we hope that people take advantage in the days and weeks ahead to improve their chances of a healthy fall and winter.”

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