Children and teens in Saskatchewan have some new options for COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters as of yesterday.
The province’s Chief Medical Health Officer is Dr. Saqib Shahab, said that anyone aged five and older is now eligible for a Pfizer Bivalent vaccine – either as a first or additional booster.
“I think that's really good news," Shahab said. “Only half the population so far has received the bivalent booster, so I think it's great that anyone five and older now can. I really encourage everyone who hasn't still gotten a COVID booster to go and get one.”
There's another vaccine that was available for 18 and older, that now everyone 12 and older can choose to get as a primary series—the Novavax Nuvaxovid.
According to the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), “Novavax contains the spike protein that is on the surface of the coronavirus, and an adjuvant called Matrix-M, which helps create a strong immune response. Our body recognizes the spike protein as a threat and produces antibodies, which help keep us from becoming seriously ill if we are exposed to the COVID-19 virus. Clinical trials showed that beginning 7 days after the second dose, the Novavax vaccine lowered the chance of getting sick by 90%, including helping to prevent people from getting seriously ill.”
In a provincial release, the SHA that while most mandates are lifted and life has returned to pre-pandemic ways, it’s never too late to be vaccinated against influenza and COVID-19.
“While we're out of that acute phase when we all had to behave a bit differently, COVID is still here very much here,” Shahab added. “The good thing is that we can all take actions to prevent risk to ourselves and to reduce the risk to others.”
He recommends getting primary doses and boosters, as well as keeping up with the flu vaccine every year—it's safe to receive both of these vaccines at the same time.
Other measures include staying home when sick, and consistent hand-washing—as well as masking up when visiting anyone who may be at risk.
“We've had a really hard influenza season this year,” Shahab said. “Many people who were unvaccinated had been surprised by how sick they were with the flu. Some said they were sicker with the flu than they were with COVID, but again, I think it's a good reminder to also get your flu shot if you haven't had that this year.”
The SHA reminds folks that respiratory illnesses continue to transmit in all regions of the province, placing pressure on health care systems as people seek treatment. Having a COVID-19 booster in the last six months reduces the risk of a COVID-19 death eight times compared to being unvaccinated, and more than four times compared to those without a recent booster dose.
Information on all COVID-19 vaccines approved by Health Canada is available at saskatchewan.ca/covid-19.