A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

COVID clarity: Feds say 42-day gap for 2-dose vaccines OK as provinces race to immunity

‘Realities on the ground’ means that provinces, territories will have difficult choices to make

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is still recommending that COVID-19 vaccines be given on manufacturer guidelines, but is now okaying an up to 42 day gap due to the “realities on the ground.”

Deputy chief medical officer Dr. Howard Njoo made the announcement during a federal technical briefing on vaccines on Thursday (Jan. 14).

“The supply is limited at the current time,” he said, at the same time as the country sees rates of infection, hospitalizations and deaths rise. Canada has seen an average of 7,727 new cases each day over the last week, with 4,509 in hospital each day, 839 of those in intensive care. The average daily death toll last week was 145.

Manufacturer guidelines recommend a 21-day gap between first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 28 days for the Moderna vaccine. However, NACI has allowed that on-the-ground-realities may lead provinces and territories to take a different tack.

“While efforts should be made to vaccinate according to the recommended schedules… some jurisdictions considering vaccine delivery logistics, current epidemiological status and projections, and healthcare system capacity may maximize the number of individuals benefiting from a first dose of vaccine by delaying the second dose, until further supplies of the vaccine become available, preferably within 42 days of receipt of the first dose,” NACI stated. The World Health Organization has provided a similar recommendations.

Neither NACI nor WHO recommendations are binding for the provinces, which are in charge of getting vaccines into their residents’ arms. B.C. has said it is going for an up to 42-day interval, citing clinical trial data.

Njoo said that the question broke down to whether it was better to protect more people with the level of immunity provided by the first dose or if it was better to get fewer people fully immunized.

“That question is not something that’s unique to Canada,” he added.

As to Quebec, which is reportedly planning for a 90-day interval between vaccine doses for some people, Njoo said they should monitor people who receive their shots more than 42 days apart.

Maj. Gen. Dany Fortin, vice president of logistics and operations for the public health agency of Canada, said that Canada still expects to get six million doses by the end of March. Canada announced earlier this week that it had secured an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, bringing the country up to 40 doses of that vaccine.

Fortin said that Canada can expect to receive one million vaccine doses per week starting in April, for a total of 20 million in the second quarter of the year. The federal government said Canada has 80 million doses of vaccine scheduled to arrive in 2021, which will allow Canada to meet its pledge to immunize everyone who wants a COVID vaccine by September of this year.

Currently, Canada has received 548,950 doses, about two-thirds of that being the Pfizer vaccine. According to a shipment schedule posted on the federal government’s website, Canada is expected to 625,950 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 171,700 doses of the Moderna vaccine between the start of this week and the end of January.

The country is then scheduled to get 1.47 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 480,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of February.

More to come.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

we do have a limited supply

pandemic is getting worse – rates of infection are increaseing,d eaths as well

do you protect more people with an initial dose that provides some level of protectoin

that question is not somtehing that’s unique to canada

scarcity of vaccines in the first quarter

6M

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo’s NRGH

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All seniors in long-term care on the Island will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
UPDATE: Snowfall warning issued for Nanaimo area, up to 5 cm forecast

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
New positive COVID-19 case at Nanaimo care home, where outbreak was declared

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence employee is isolating, says Island Health

Emergency crews were called to a semi-truck crash along the Trans-Canada Highway at Oyster Sto’Lo Road on Friday, Jan. 22. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Semi truck crashes off the side of the highway in Ladysmith

Driver taken to hospital as precaution after single-vehicle crash Friday

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
RDN Transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Actions of Vancouver Island RCMP emergency response team members prevented a potential head-on collision accident on the Trans-Canada Highway on Jan. 19, says Nanaimo RCMP. (News Bulletin file)
Eight cars evade vehicle driving on wrong side of highway, says Nanaimo RCMP

Incident occurred near Trans-Canada Highway-Morden Road intersection earlier this week

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Emergency crews were called to a crash involving a hatchback and a taxi minivan at the intersection of Fitzwilliam, Pine and Third streets on Friday afternoon. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Driver hurt as taxi and hatchback crash in Nanaimo

Collision happened Friday at intersection of Fitzwilliam, Pine and Third streets

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Most Read