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Health Canada agrees Pfizer vaccine vials have six doses

Last Updated Feb 9, 2021 at 11:45 am PST

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Summary

Health Canada has approved a label change to Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccines that say six doses can be pulled from each vial

Previously, labels on Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine vials said only five doses could be pulled from each

A specialized syringe is required to pull six doses from each Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine vial

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – The federal government has approved a label change to allow health professionals to take six doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine out of each vial.

Previously, only five doses could be extracted from each vial per Health Canada guidelines.

“This reflected the information and proposed labelling data submitted by the company at that time,” Health Canada chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said Tuesday of the previous guidelines.

The label change will not impact how many doses Canada is set to receive from Pfizer as the company had already begun allocating vials for this country based on each containing six doses rather than five.

Sharma says the approved change came after an “independent and thorough scientific reviews of submitted information.”

“In the review, it was determined that six full doses could be obtained reliably and consistently from each vaccine vial,” Sharma explained.

A specialized syringe is required to be able to consistently pull six doses from each vaccine vial. The syringe is “designed to have a lower volume of liquid that stays in the hub of the syringe after the vaccine is administered,” Sharma said, noting this minimizes how much vaccine volume is lost after each shot.

 

The U.S., Europe, and the World Health Organization have already made the change.

“As part of the authorization, Health Canada has issued terms and conditions to Pfizer-BioNTech. They are required to provide continued educational support, as needed, to vaccine points of use in Canada to facilitate implementation of the six-doses per vial label change,” Sharma said.

She added the company is also required to provide information about the specialized syringes and the process required to pull the six doses.

Canada has an agreement in place with Pfizer-BioNTech for 40 million doses of the drug this year. Four million doses are expected in Canada by the end of March.

More to come.