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Latest COVID-19 vaccines likely not publicly available until late October, Ottawa Public Health says

Ottawa Public Health says it is awaiting shipments of the latest COVID-19 vaccines that target the XBB.1.5 subvariant, but it could be a few more weeks before they're widely available.

Health Canada has authorized two vaccines that target the variant, one by Pfizer-BioNTech and one by Moderna. Health Canada is also reviewing a submission from Novavax for its vaccine.

"Canada will have ample supply of the new formulation of mRNA vaccines available in fall 2023," Health Canada said in a news release Thursday.

Ottawa Public Health said in posts on social media that it doesn't have any of the newly approved vaccines in its clinics yet.

"Based on what we've been told by the Province, these latest vaccines may only be available for the general population come late October," OPH said.

OPH says a dose of the updated XBB. 1.5-containing COVID-19 mRNA vaccine is recommended this fall for everyone 6 months of age and older if it has been six months since your last COVID-19 vaccine or known COVID-19 infection.

"Getting a dose of the updated COVID-19 vaccine is very important for people who are at risk of getting very sick from the COVID-19 virus such as people 65 years and older, people who are pregnant and people living in long-term care home, retirement homes, for example," a statement on OPH's website says. 

Doses will be prioritized for highest-risk settings such as hospitals and long-term care homes first, followed by access for people in high-risk groups in mid-October, such as seniors or those living in other congregate living settings like retirement homes, and then to the general public by the end of October.

In the meantime, public health is urging residents to stay home when sick, wash hands often and consider wearing a mask in public spaces.

According to data provided by OPH, levels of the three main respiratory illnesses were steady in the past week. COVID-19 continues to be more prevalent than influenza and RSV. Respiratory illness was responsible for about 13 per cent of all emergency room visits for the week of Sept. 17 to 23, data show. There were 34 new hospitalizations because of COVID-19 that week, compared to two for RSV and zero for the flu.

Most COVID-19 patients are 60 or older, while RSV patients tend to be under the age of five.

COVID-19 has killed 1,111 people in Ottawa since the pandemic began. Top Stories

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