The Canadian Vaccine Advisory Committee says giving as many Canadians as possible their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before offering the second would allow more essential workers to be vaccinated sooner – an urgent matter then that the provinces are grappling with an increasing workload.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released updated guidelines on the recommended interval between doses Wednesday morning after members reviewed updated research that aligns with the response recommendations ” quick ”that the committee did last month.
“NACI recommends that in the context of the limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine and the ongoing pandemic disease, jurisdictions should maximize the number of people receiving the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of the COVID vaccine -19 up to four months after the first ”, states the updated NACI recommendations.
The committee said that, based on the offer, they expect the interval between the first and second dose to be less than four months.
“Second doses should be offered as soon as possible after all eligible populations have been offered the first doses, with priority given to those most at risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 disease,” NACI said.
Dr Shelley Deeks, vice chair of the vaccine committee, said when NACI released its priority vaccine list in December, it recommended that essential workers – including teachers, grocery store staff and workers of food production and manufacturing – be vaccinated at the second stage, soon after long-term care home residents and front-line workers.
“The extended dose interval allows these workers to get vaccinated earlier than they would have, at least with the first dose, only by using the allowed interval,” she told journalists today.
“We actually put these workers first.”
British Columbia’s chief public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, speaking at the press conference as chair of the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health, said it was up to the provinces to consider carefully the recommendations.
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“It’s a balancing act and it’s a challenge,” she said.
“We have all targeted workplaces that have experienced epidemics and I know we have been quite successful here in having food processing workers, farm workers and others vaccinated as part of the program, and we will continue to do so and we will wait until other vaccines are available. “
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has come under pressure to prioritize essential workers for immunization. Today, while announcing new home support measures in the province, he announced his intention to start vaccinating people 18 years of age and older living in COVID-19 hot spots, including teachers and essential workers, starting with Toronto and Peel.
Ford said mobile teams were being organized to deliver vaccines to high-risk gathering places, residential buildings, church venues and places occupied by large employers in these sensitive neighborhoods.
Ottawa ready to help provinces and territories, says Hajdu
According to TBEN’s vaccine tracking system, 16.3% of the population has received a dose to date.
NACI said that, based on the planned supply of mRNA vaccines only, extending dose intervals to four months will allow 90% of adults over 50 and 75% of adults. 16 to 49 years of age to receive a first dose of vaccine in mid-June 2021.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the federal government was ready to help provinces and territories protect people who cannot work from home during the pandemic.
She spoke about EI and the essential worker support program – which provides a temporary wage top-up – but pointed out that this was largely a provincial issue.
“We have to remember that vaccination is an important tool, but it is not the only one,” she said. “Workplaces need to be safe and, of course, that is a big part of provincial jurisdiction.”
On March 3, NACI recommended that the maximum interval between the first and second dose of Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines should be increased to four months in order to increase the number of Canadians vaccinated.
NACI, an external advisory body that provides independent advice on immunization to the Public Health Agency of Canada, said it would continue to monitor data on the effectiveness of an extended dose interval and adjust recommendations as needed.