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Both doses of two-shot COVID-19 vaccines needed, Vancouver doctor stresses

Last Updated May 4, 2021 at 10:39 am PDT

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

More people are reportedly thinking they don't need a second shot of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine

Vancouver doctor says he's concerned, stresses importance of getting both doses of a two-dose vaccine

Reopening will depend on getting people fully vaccinated: Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre director

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Getting the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of Canadians as fast as possible is a good start in controlling the pandemic in the coming weeks. But one doctor suggests more people are thinking they don’t need a second shot.

That is a concern, according to Dr. Brian Conway, who is the director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre.

“We need to get the message out that the one-dose strategy is simply a short-term fix to reduce viral transmission in a broader segment of the population more quickly,” he told NEWS 1130. “If we gave half the people both doses, then it would leave half the people completely unprotected getting no doses.”

He says getting back to a semblance of normal and seeing businesses reopen will depend on people getting vaccinated fully.

Currently, three of the four vaccines approved for use in Canada require two doses each. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is currently not being administered, is the only one-dose shot greenlit by Health Canada.

Earlier this year, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said provinces and territories could wait up to four months before administering second doses of vaccines, amid a shortage. However, when possible, it’s still recommended people are given the second shot sooner.


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Conway feels as more COVID vaccine becomes available in Canada, there needs to be a plan to get second doses administered as soon as possible, noting the long-term efficacy of two-dose vaccines is completely dependent on getting both shots.

“In the clinical trials, the second dose was given in a matter of weeks. Because of the vaccine shortage in Canada, we have delivered in a significant way administration of the second dose, hoping it will still be effective. We don’t know that. We think that that’s possible, but we don’t know that. So the more rapidly we can shorten the timeframe between the first and second dose, the more reliable long-term immunity to COVID-19 will be as a result of vaccination,” he explained.

“People really have to hang in there … if they call you for the second dose, run, don’t walk, and go get your second dose,” added Conway.

Canada has seen a significant ramp up in vaccine deliveries since the beginning of the year. This week alone, the country is set to receive three million doses from Moderna and Pfizer.

“Arrivals of the Pfizer vaccine continue to be on track for two million doses each week in May,” Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Tuesday. “That number ramps up to 2.4 million doses each week over five weeks in June.”