Starting on Sunday, adults in Toronto who booked COVID vaccine appointments at city mass clinics will receive Moderna, regardless of their first dose. Peel vaccine clinics will start using Moderna for all adult appointments on Monday.
Toronto announced the change amid a delay of a Pfizer-BioNTech shipment of more than 162,000 doses that was supposed to arrive in freezers on June 21.
“While Team Toronto vaccination partners are facing a shipment delay, we must not delay the quick administration of doses,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health, in a statement.
Children and teens aged 12 to 17 will still get Pfizer, as that’s the only vaccine that’s approved for them.
Staff at vaccine clinics will inform individuals that they are getting Moderna, according to a city press release. But they will not be offered the opportunity to get Pfizer instead.
“I urge all residents to access two-dose protection in any approved combination as quickly as possible to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community,” said Peel’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh, in a statement.
In that region, the change will last until at least Thursday.
They work in the same way, giving cells instructions to make a protein which triggers the immune system to develop antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19.
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NACI says that people who got a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna should be offered the same mRNA vaccine for their second dose.
“If the same mRNA vaccine is not readily available or unknown, another mRNA vaccine can be considered interchangeable and should be offered to complete the vaccine series.”
Vaccination partners across the city are “making similar efforts,” to offer Moderna, Toronto Public Health’s press release added.
But it’s not clear if there will some Pfizer doses available at some individual pop-ups or hospital clinics.
Toronto Public Health spokesperson Keisha Mair said in an email the duration of the Moderna push “will depend on changes in vaccine supply received by the province,” and directed enquiries about the Pfizer shipment delay to them.
Alexandra Hilkene, a spokesperson for Minister of Health Christine Elliott, said in an email that “Ontario’s Pfizer delivery has been delayed by two to three days.”
She directed enquiries about the delay to the federal government. Health Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Michael Garron Hospital, which operates a number of pop-up clinics in the city’s east end, will offer Moderna to everyone over 18 for first and second doses, starting Sunday, according to a tweet from its official account.
In her statement, de Villa urged the public to keep appointments that have already been booked, and make them once eligible.
“Both Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are interchangeable, equally effective and safe for everyone over 18 years,” she said. “With the Delta variant growing at an exponential rate in Toronto, vaccines are one of our key strategies to slow transmission.”
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