B.C. has cut the vaccine interval in half for its age-based COVID-19 immunization program.
Previously, the interval between doses for those receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine was increased to a maximum of 16 weeks. Now, that interval has been slashed to eight weeks, and the province is sending booking invitations to those age 70 and older and those deemed clinically extremely vulnerable.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said up until this point, the province's strategy has been to offer first doses to as many people as possible, but now, with increased vaccine supply, second dose timelines can be moved up.
"We now have sufficient confirmed deliveries of vaccine in the age-based program for Pfizer and Moderna that we can move up the interval," she said.
Those most at risk will be offered their second dose first, Henry said. Second doses are also currently being given in care homes and to health care workers.
Second doses are also now being offered at First Nation communities, beginning with remote areas.
Henry said there have been been issues in receiving the Moderna vaccine and, as a result, a second dose may not be available, and instead another mRNA vaccine (Pfizer) will be offered.
"It is safe and it does work. If you had a Moderna vaccine first, you can receive a Pfizer vaccine for your second dose," she said, noting that while it is preferable to receive the same vaccine for second doses, it is safe to receive another of the same type.
"Whenever possible, the second dose will be the same as the first," she said, encouraging those who received Moderna to take a second dose of Pfizer if it is offered to them, rather than waiting.
For those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, Henry said the province is still waiting for the results of studies underway that are looking into mixing vaccine types.