B.C. health officials are now encouraging all British Columbians five years of age and older to receive a COVID-19 booster shot.

This comes as the province prepares for a surge in COVID-19 cases in November and December connected to the respiratory illness season.

Starting this week, the Moderna bivalent vaccine will start arriving in the province. The Health Canada-approved vaccine has a greater effect against the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Dr. Bonnie Henry on protection provided by new bivalent vaccine'

COVID-19: Dr. Bonnie Henry on protection provided by new bivalent vaccine

“It is vaccination that has allowed us to get to this point. It has meant we no longer need those restrictive measures,” B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday.

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“The level of immunity through infection and vaccination has been a game changer.”

The province will require at least a six-month gap between booster doses, including both third and fourth shots.

British Columbians will receive a notice through the Get Vaccinated system when they are eligible to book an appointment for the bivalent vaccine. Anyone can currently book a booster shot six months after their previous shot for the non-bivalent vaccines.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Where is B.C. at in the pandemic heading into the fall season?'

COVID-19: Where is B.C. at in the pandemic heading into the fall season?

The bivalent vaccine provides protection against multiple strains of the virus and tests have shown it has proven to be more effective in preventing severe illness and spread from the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The province is recommending anyone who is vaccinated and has contracted COVID-19 wait three months after infection to get the booster.

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“And I think everybody knows at least somebody who’s been infected this summer,” Henry said. “But those infections have been mostly mild because we’ve primed our immune system.

“There are far fewer people in B.C. and in Canada, who are at severe risk. And we have new tools to support those most at risk.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: What steps can individuals take in the current climate?'

COVID-19: What steps can individuals take in the current climate?

Pharmacies are expected to have the bivalent available for vaccination by the end of the week. Priority is given on the length of time someone has waited for the shot.

“We will start as soon as the bivalent vaccine arrives. It is due this week. We were expecting it today, but that is not happening,” vaccine lead Dr. Penny Ballem said.

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“Once we have the first vaccine arriving we will start with the invites. We will be putting up bookings.”

Health Authority clinics will be set up by Sept. 19 and will be operating at full capacity by the end of the month.

Later on in the fall, the province will be offering the COVID-19 and flu vaccine together.

This content was originally published here.