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B.C. shortens interval between COVID-19 vaccine doses to eight weeks

Last Updated May 27, 2021 at 6:28 pm PDT

Summary

400,000 British Columbians aged 70 and up and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable getting invites to book now

Dr. Bonnie Henry says people can mix and match Moderna and Pfizer vaccines

B.C. records 378 new COVID-19 cases, seven deaths

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C. is shortening the wait between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine for those who receive Pfizer or Moderna for their first shot. They will only have to wait eight weeks to be fully inoculated.

The province previously required 16 weeks between doses, in an effort to get more first doses into the arms of British Columbians faster. That interval was then lowered to 13 weeks. Now, it’s just eight.

“About 400,000 people over the age of 70 and clinically extremely vulnerable will start receiving their invites today,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday

More than 3 million vaccine doses have been administered, 156,730 of which are second doses.

Henry says this equates to 65.8 per cent of adults and 62 per cent of eligible British Columbians aged 12 and up who have received at least one dose.

Mixing and matching vaccines

Henry says people who are receive their COVID-19 vaccine through the age-based program may get a different brand for their second dose.

Given Moderna shipments have been less consistent than Pfizer’s, this would mostly apply to people who received Moderna first.

Those two vaccines are both messenger RNA vaccines and work in similar ways.

“It is safe and it does work if you had a Moderna vaccine first that you can receive a Pfizer vaccine for your second dose. This is the approach that we will be taking as much as possible,” Henry said.

Henry notes “it is always preferable to have the same product for the first and second doses,” but that’s sometimes not possible. She cites an adverse reaction to the first dose or perhaps supply issues as reasons that could happen.

“We are going to try and make sure everybody gets the second dose with the same product they had for their first dose. But … people who receive Moderna in one of the mass clinics or large community clinics may be offered Pfizer for their dose two. And I would encourage people to take the Pfizer, if it is on offer,” she said.

As for AstraZeneca, Henry expects to share further guidance on second doses of that vaccine.

“I want to assure people that we will have enough of the AstraZeneca vaccine to provide second doses for everybody who wants that,” she said, adding the province paused the program for that vaccine to preserve supply for second doses.

“It does not expire until the end of June so we still have a little bit of time, so people can make their best decision,” she said.

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B.C.’s four-stage plan to lift restrictions in the coming months is heavily dependent on vaccination rates, as well as daily cases and hospitalization numbers.

COVID-19 cases, related deaths recorded Thursday

B.C. recorded 378 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, an uptick from the previous three days, each of which saw fewer than 300 cases.

Seven more people have died, for a total of 1,690 since the pandemic began.

“Of the seven, who passed away in the last few days, one was a person in their 60s, three were in their 70s, and three were people who are seniors and elders over the age of 80,” Henry said.

There are 286 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 88 who are in intensive care — this is out of 3,543 active cases.