Long-term care residents, staff and essential caregivers who have received their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine will now receive their second dose within 21 to 27 days, said Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, said in a release. Everyone else will receive their second dose after 21 days but before 42 days. The time span between doses specified by Pfizer is 21 days.
The 28-day dose interval for the Moderna vaccine will remain unchanged. Federal officials told Global News that Canada had received 171,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week and is expecting 230,400 more doses in the first week of February.
“Vaccination of residents, staff and essential caregivers of all long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes in Ontario will continue, with the goal of having the first dose administered in all homes no later than mid-February,” the release said.
“In the meantime, we are working to expand the number of vaccination sites to prepare for the demand for vaccination during Phase Two.”
As of Friday, the Ontario government said more than 189,000 vaccine doses have been administered in the province.
Provincial health authorities said that despite the delays, their goal of inoculating approximately 61,500 long-term care residents, staff and essential caregivers in Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex by Jan. 21 will not be affected.
The news comes one day after the federal government announced Pfizer would be reducing deliveries to all countries receiving its COVID-19 vaccine while it expands its European manufacturing facility.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the temporary delay would have no impact on Canada’s long-term vaccine target, which aims to have enough doses for everyone in Canada who wishes to be vaccinated by the end of September.
The change in supply is expected to last the next four weeks, and could see deliveries reduced by at least half for Canada in the coming weeks.
The Ontario government said they were working with the Public Health Agency of Canada to determine “the exact timing and amount of these reductions.”
These vaccine dose adjustments are in line with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s recommendations on the use of COVID-19 vaccines, which has indicated that some provinces may delay administering the second dose if there is a vaccine shortage. NACI stated the second shot should take place “preferably within 42 days of receipt of the first dose.”
On Friday, updated federal COVID-19 modelling showed Canada was on track to push past 10,000 confirmed cases per day by February, with the potential to reach 796,630 infections by Jan. 24 and another 2,000 deaths.
“Early signs of levelling off for most of December have been replaced by a sharp rise in cases in late December, following the holidays,” Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said.
“The vaccine, in the short term, is not going to make any difference to the transmission and that projection.”
One day earlier, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province was “evaluating the impact” of Pfizer’s announcement, adding that Ontario would soon have the “baseline capacity” to vaccinate nearly 40,000 Canadians per day, and possibly triple or quadruple that number with reasonable notice.
Ontario is one of several provinces struggling to curb a recent surge in COVID-19 infections, reporting more than 3,000 cases on Saturday. On Thursday, Ford launched a stay-at-home order instructing people to limit trips outside of their homes and properties to essential purposes only.
“If you’re not sure if a trip is absolutely essential, it probably isn’t,” Ford said Wednesday.
“So please, you must stay home … Stay home. Stay home. That’s it.”
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