Health Canada has approved Pfizer’s updated vaccine to protect people aged six months and older from COVID-19.

Thursday’s authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine takes aim at the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant of the virus that causes COVID.

The updated vaccine is administered as one dose for those aged five and up. 

Children between six months and five years old who haven’t received the primary series should receive three doses.

Pfizer Canada said it expects the newly formulated vaccine to be available “in the coming weeks” before the respiratory virus season is forecasted to peak. 

Moderna’s updated vaccine was approved earlier this month.  

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, noted Thursday that the new, updated vaccines show “good protection” against all the Omicron subvariants circulating right now. “So that’s good news.” 

Rapid antigen tests available also still work, Henry said. 

WATCH | An update on respiratory virus season in B.C.: 

“Canada will have ample supply of the new formulation of mRNA vaccines available in fall 2023,” Health Canada said in a statement. 

The regulator is also reviewing Novavax’s latest vaccine targeting the Omicron XBB.1.5 variant for people aged 12 and older.

Federal officials aren’t calling the shots “boosters.” Rather, they view the updated options in a similar way as annual flu shots. 

The Public Health Agency of Canada’s latest report for the week ending Sept. 23 shows that test positivity for the virus that causes COVID-19 has increased since early July. 

The agency also said activity of common cold viruses — known as enterovirus and rhinovirus — is increasing, as expected for this time of year.

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