Ask Your Pharmacist

September 19, 2022
Q:

I heard there is a new bivalent COVID-19 vaccine coming this Fall.  Should I delay getting my booster for the news vaccine?

A:

An additional bivalent booster vaccine against COVID-19 is now available to eligible New Brunswickers.  A bivalent vaccine is active against two different antigens or virus strains.  The traditional monovalent Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are active against one strain.

The Moderna Spikevax Bivalent Original/Omicron BA.1 booster dose targets the original strain of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant (BA.1).  This vaccine combination was chosen because to date, the Omicron variant has demonstrated the greatest ability to mutate, change, and to infect many in the human population.  

Scientific studies found that the Moderna Spikevax COVID 19 vaccine is about 94 percent effect at preventing COVID in adults ages 18 and above.  The Moderna Omicron booster dose was shown to increase the immune response and is expected to offer protection against the BA.1 variant.

The new bivalent vaccine is available to New Brunswickers who are 50 years of age and older, or those ages 12 to 17 years who are immune compromised or have a high-risk medical condition, or those ages 18 years and older who live in a First Nations Community.  Citizens living in a long-term care facility will be offered a bivalent booster, along with their influenza shot, in October. 

It is important for New Brunswickers to stay up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccines, especially as we move into the Fall and Winter season, to give us the best chance for a healthy, interactive, season.  New Brunswickers should not delay their Fall "traditional" monovalent booster dose because they are waiting for the bivalent Omicron-containing vaccine. If you have questions about your primary series of immunization and booster doses for COVID-19 visit www.gnb2.ca.

The bivalent vaccine booster is not intended to be used as a replacement for a primary series of immunization or to replace a booster dose to that series. IT provides additional protection against the Omicron strain, but we still need the primary series and recommend booster doses of the traditional "monovalent" vaccine.

For example, a 50 year old healthy male received his first and second doses of  primary vaccine series against COVID-19 with monovalent Pfizer (the traditional vaaccine). Five months after the second dose, he received a 3rd dose (1st booster) with Pfizer. Five months after the third dose, he received the fourth dose (second booster).  This man is eligible to receive the bivalent booster 5 months after his last shot.   

To reiterate, Elgible New Brunswickers may receive the bivalent vaccine booster, at an interval of 5 months (minimum 3 months) since the last booster dose, or the last primary series dose, regardless of the previous number of booster doses received,  If you had COVID-19 infection,  it is recommended to wait 5 months since your last positive COVID-19 test result before getting the booster.

So far, the side effect profile of this booster is similar to the side effects previously reported to the Moderna vaccine, and is considered safe and efficacious by Health Canada.  After getting vaccinated, it is common to have temporary side effects that can last from a few hours to a few days.  These effects may include redness, soreness, or swelling at the injection site.  More general symptoms such as fever, chills, fatigue, headache, and joint pain may occur. This is the body's natural response as it works hard to build protection against COIVD-19.  If you experience a side effect you are uncertain about, talk to your pharmacist for guidance.  

To book your COVID-19 vaccine, go to www.gnb2.ca or call 1-833-437-1424.