Faced with a vaccine shortage, the Canadian Immunization Advisory Body recommends that some Canadians follow their AstraZeneca injections with a different vaccine in the second dose.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization said on Tuesday that people who had received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine could receive either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines as a second dose. He also said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could be used interchangeably, although he recommended sticking to a single brand when possible.
While Canada’s health care system has generally been efficient at distributing vaccines, no vaccines are manufactured in the country and larger shipments have only started arriving in recent weeks. To ensure that as many Canadians as possible have some protection, Canada has focused on administering at least one dose to as many people as possible. While 62 percent of Canadian adults have received at least one injection, only 5.7 percent are fully immunized.
The advisory committee’s recommendation came as many provinces start increasing second doses, and it could resolve a potential headache.
Most of the increased vaccine shipments come from Pfizer, while Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccine supplies have been much shorter. To date, 19.3 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine have arrived in Canada, compared to 5.7 million doses of Moderna and 2.8 million injections of Astra Zeneca.
The ability to replace Pfizer’s vaccine with second doses eliminates concerns about limited stocks.
The advisory group said its recommendation followed similar advice from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Spain and Sweden. Several studies have shown that the vaccine mixture is safe and effective, the committee said.
Seven of Canada’s 10 provinces, whose health systems perform the vaccinations, said they would allow people to change course between doses.