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Canada has 'sufficient supply' of new COVID-19 vaccines amid 'pandemic amnesia,' experts say

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As doctors recommend new COVID-19 vaccine doses to combat the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant, a mutation of COVID-19 that has continued to spread despite misconceptions that the virus is in the past, officials say Canada has sufficient supply.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), deliveries of both the Moderna Spikevax and Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccines, which target the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant, are “well underway.”

The agency said that more than 12 million doses are currently available throughout Canada. Additional doses will be arriving in the coming weeks.

In a statement sent to CTV News, the PHAC said that “individuals vaccinated with the updated XBB.1.5-containing COVID-19 vaccines are expected to benefit from a better immune response against currently circulating strains compared to earlier formulations.”

The agency also advised that these updated COVID-19 vaccines could be safely received with other vaccine doses, such as the seasonal influenza vaccine.

“This recommendation is based on the increasing body of evidence on safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, and considers the extensive data and experience from giving other routine vaccines at the same time or within days of each other,” the PHAC said, citing advice from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

According to government officials, every province and territory now has supply of at least one updated mRNA vaccine, but public awareness efforts have plummeted in recent years, with many Canadians no longer seeing the urgency to get booster shots.

"It seems to me that we are sort of experiencing COVID amnesia," Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine, professor of community health and epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan, told The Canadian Press.

“This fall, we are at a quite a different place in relation to COVID-19 than in each of the three previous falls -- we are in a better place, but we are not in a completely safe place," Muhajarine said.

While the PHAC works closely with jurisdictions across the country to facilitate vaccine distribution, the agency says it’s up to provinces and territories to determine how many – and what types – of vaccines they require.

With files from The Canadian Press and CTV National News Correspondent Judy Trinh

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