People who got AstraZeneca for their first COVID-19 vaccine dose can pick that again for their second shot or switch to an mRNA vaccine.
The Ontario government announced updated guidance Thursday on mixing different vaccines for first and second doses based on new recommendations from the national advisory committee that say it’s safe and effective.
Starting on Friday and depending on vaccine availability, people can choose to get AstraZeneca again for their second dose or go with Pfizer or Moderna. These second dose options will be offered at the recommended 12-week interval.
AstraZeneca is available at participating pharmacies and some primary care offices in Waterloo Region. Residents are encouraged to get their second dose from the same location as their first.
Public health says participating pharmacies are beginning to offer Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and will be able to schedule second-dose appointments. Or people can book a second-dose appointment at a regional vaccination clinic by emailing [email protected] or calling 519-514-1499.
All first and second doses are recorded in a provincial database regardless of where a person gets them. Staff at all clinic locations can verify the first-dose type and date given before giving the second.
The region urges anyone who changes location for their second-dose appointment to cancel the original one to give another person the chance to get vaccinated.
Ontario’s top doctor urges everyone who had a first dose of AstraZeneca to get a second dose for full protection against the virus, no matter which vaccine they pick.
“Nothing is more important than the health of Ontarians, and for the best protection against COVID-19 it is vital that everyone who received the AstraZeneca vaccine for their first dose receives a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health.
“We are providing individuals who have received only their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine with two recommended options based on the available data and evidence and will continue to work with Health Canada to monitor the quality and efficacy of all COVID-19 vaccines being used in Ontario.”
The national committee also said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be safely interchanged for first and second doses if the original mRNA vaccine is not available. People who received a first dose of an mRNA vaccine should be offered the same vaccine for their second dose, but if that is not available then another mRNA vaccine can be offered instead to complete the vaccine series.
The province said in a news release that combining similar vaccines from different manufacturers is not a new concept and has been done for influenza, hepatitis A and other vaccines.