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Quebec public health officials say the new COVID-19 vaccine that targets the Omicron variant will be available at vaccination centres starting Thursday at noon, but they add that the shot is not recommended for people under 30.

Public health director Dr. Luc Boileau told reporters in Montreal Wednesday that Quebecers will have a choice between the older-generation vaccines and the new one, adding that he thinks people will favour the Omicron-targeting bivalent shot.

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines are not recommended for people under 30, however, because they present a higher risk of myocarditis – inflammation of the heart muscle – than the Pfizer shot, said Dr. Caroline Quach, who sits on Quebec’s vaccine committee.

People under 30 are advised to stick with Pfizer but can choose the new Moderna shot if they prefer, she added.

“A person who would like the bivalent and is under 30 and has informed consent can also get the bivalent.”

Health Canada last week approved for people 18 and older an adapted version of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which targets both the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Omicron BA.1 variant.

Meanwhile, Boileau said the province’s COVID-19 indicators are “very favourable.” New cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to drop across the province, he said, adding that the number of health-care workers absent due to COVID-19 is decreasing.

“We have never had a number of absences this low in 2022,” Boileau said.

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