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

Parksville city hall sign. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Parksville city council approves 2021 workplan

Public input still sought on municipal budget and financial plan

Colin Springford expressed his thanks following a birthday truck parade that was held for him on his 75th birthday on April 10, 2020. (Submitted photo)
Longtime Nanoose Bay farmer Colin Springford dies at age 75

‘He will be deeply missed, always loved and never forgotten’

Nicole Shaw, left, and Sekoya Dawn next to their respective works at the Qualicum Arts Supply and Gallery in Qualicum Beach. The art will be on display until the end of February. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Acrylic artists display work in Qualicum Beach

Nicole Shaw and Sekoya Dawn both featured at Qualicum Arts Supply and Gallery

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Parksville Fire Department crews attended the scene of a house fire on Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 at the end of Foster Place in Parksville. No injuries were reported. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Fire crews called to battle house fire in Parksville

No injuries reported, kitty rescued

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) is on route to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device. (Google/Screencap)
Bomb disposal unit en route to Salt Spring Island after suspicious device found in park

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

Most Read