Vaccine shipment delays and new advice prompt response from B.C. health officials

While the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has provided new advice for those who received a first dose of AstraZeneca, B.C.'s provincial health officer says her previous advice stands — to choose either type of vaccine for a second dose

Like other provinces, B.C. will face a shortfall in shipments of the Pfizer vaccine in early July. As a result, B.C. health officials are again encouraging people to take the first vaccine they are offered.

But the shipment delays come as B.C. is expected to see new shipments of the Moderna vaccine — with 1,153,600 doses coming before the end of June, according to B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.

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Up until last week, the province saw only a trickle of Moderna flowing in, with just 67,400 doses of that vaccine coming earlier in June.

As for Pfizer, the supply has remained steady at 327,600 doses each week in June. But that is expected to change the week of July 5, when instead of another 308,000 doses, B.C. is now expecting 121,680 doses instead.

Dix said the missing doses are expected to be made up later in the month.

As a result, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry began Thursday's COVID-19 update with a reminder that these kinds of "speed bumps" are not unexpected, given the complexity of the global immunization effort.

"We will continue to work with what we get and ensure there will be enough vaccine for everyone," she said.

Henry's advice on Thursday was to take the first vaccine offered. That means for those who received an mRNA vaccine for their first dose, the vaccine may be different — but Henry said both Pfizer and Moderna are "equally safe and effective."

She offered further advice for those whose first dose was of the AstraZeneca vaccine. On Thursday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said second doses for those who received AstraZeneca should be an mRNA-type vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) rather than a second dose of AstraZeneca.

But Henry said her previous advice — to give people a choice of which vaccine they will receive for their second dose, either an mRNA-type vaccine or a second dose of AstraZeneca — still holds.

"As a result, here in B.C., our advice has not changed. You make the choice that is right for you, because all of the vaccines we have and use here in B.C. are safe and highly effective, and so are all of the options," she said, regarding mixing and matching.

Henry said she has reviewed the NACI statement and said it is not a surprise to her, saying it is based on a small study out of Germany, and that the effectiveness in the real world is yet to be seen.

"Does it translate into better protection in the real world? We don't know that yet," she said.

As to whether or not a third booster shot will be required, Henry said she doesn't know yet, but pledged that the province will continue to update its guidance with the latest information.

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