January 15th, 2021

Expert says stretching out time between vaccine doses in Alberta ‘practical’

By The Canadian Press on January 13, 2021.

A nurse prepares to give the first COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in Edmonton on Dec. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

CALGARY – An infectious diseases expert says it makes practical sense for Alberta to stretch the amount of time between first and second doses of two approved COVID-19 vaccines – but not indefinitely.

Dr. Jim Kellner with the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine says it’s reasonable to allow for 42 days between doses until the end of February, when Ottawa expects to significantly ramp up deliveries.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s label says doses should be given 21 days apart and Moderna’s says it should be 28 days.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization says prolonging the wait to 42 days is acceptable in places where there’s high community transmission, strain on the health-care system and limited vaccine supply.

The World Health Organization has also suggested that waiting up to six weeks after the first dose is an acceptable compromise.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said Tuesday that if the province were to save half of every vaccine shipment for second doses, it would dramatically cut the number of people who could benefit from early protection.

“None of these are easy decisions,” she said.

“But it’s really important that, as we’re considering all of these options, we make sure that we’re thinking about the benefits and risks at individual levels as well as the population level.”

Health officials in Manitoba and Saskatchewan say they’re sticking with the time frame set out on the vaccine manufacturers’ labels for now.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 13, 2021.

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