Fall rollout of COVID-19 bivalent vaccine could include schools for the first time

Fall rollout of COVID-19 bivalent vaccine could include schools for the first time
Fall rollout of COVID-19 bivalent could include schools for the first time as mass vaccination clinics are being planned for late fall.

The first COVID-19 bivalent vaccine clinics opened earlier this week in Victoria.

Anyone over 18 can get the new vaccine and text message invitations started going out Monday, according to Island Health clinical coordinator of mass clinics, Monica Stevenson.

Coronavirus bivalent shots contain half that original vaccine recipe and half protection against the Omicron variant, which is considered the most contagious variant yet.

More than 330 people will walk through the doors of an Island Health COVID-19 clinic in Victoria today.

“Piece of cake. Walked in, they registered me, straight into the thing, stabbed me once, and didn’t feel it. It was perfect,” said Wayne Martin, who just received his fourth COVID-19, the latest one being the bivalent version.

Island Health Medical Health Officer, Dr. Dee Hoyano, said with B.C.’s fall booster campaign underway the priority is on getting those at greatest risk their shots first.

“The recommendation nationally is for people at that higher risk of severe complication from Covid infection. We are certainly recommending that they get the booster dose.”

However, as more vaccine becomes available, more pharmacies will hold clinics — something that’s expected to gear up by the end of September.

And, while the push is on to get people their boosters B.C. is still trying to increase uptake for child vaccines.

As a result, the province is going to try a different approach this fall.

For the first time, Stevenson said, planning is underway to hold COVID-19 vaccinations clinics for students at B.C. schools.

“When we start rolling out the school vaccination program again, we will be providing, or offering, COVID vaccines at the schools at that time,” Stevenson said.

Planning for the school program is in its early stages.

And the province’s official announcement is still to come.

But Stevenson said vaccines will likely be available in schools before the end of this year.

“It depends on what the uptake is. How interested people are in getting their COVID-19 vaccine at the mass immunization sites. Ideally, and this is a fluid kind of topic, we are hoping in November-December.”

Also later this fall flu vaccine will available like mid-October.

At that point, those who haven’t had their booster yet can get both shots at the same time.

WATCH: B.C. to offer COVID-19 booster for people 12 and older starting this fall

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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