Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is expected to announce on Thursday British Columbia’s plan to allow mixing and matching of different types of COVID-19 vaccines.
On Tuesday, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended it was safe for those who received AstraZeneca as a first dose to receive Pfizer or Moderna as a second dose. The change is expected to give British Columbians the choice in which vaccine they receive for their second dose.
NACI is also recommending the mixing and matching of mRNA vaccines, so those who received Pfizer as a first dose can receive Moderna as a second dose and vice-versa. British Columbia already announced plans to implement this form of mixing and matching.
“I think it will be no surprise to people that there will be options,” Henry said.
“People will have a choice, we just need to formulate the risk-benefit in a way that people can understand. We’re also looking at the logistics and operationally how will this work in our system. We have time. By Thursday we’ll have it all laid out for people so they can make their own choice.”
What is still not yet clear is whether the mix-and-match policy will shrink the interval between doses for those who received AstraZeneca as a first dose.
Henry has mentioned repeatedly that studies show AstraZeneca is more effective when there is a 12-week gap between doses. Currently, the gap in British Columbia between mRNA vaccines is eight weeks between first and second doses and 13 weeks between doses for AstraZeneca.
Manitoba announced on Monday those who received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for their first dose can get either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for their second shot.
Mixing and matching in British Columbia could alleviate some of the vaccine supply issues the country has been facing.
Deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine continue to be consistent but there have been delays and shortages linked to both the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines. Henry has promised anyone who already received a dose of AstraZeneca vaccine will have access to AstraZeneca for their second shot.
A vast majority of countries around the world are not mixing and matching yet. But NACI advises international jurisdictions will consider a Canadian fully vaccinated if they receive two doses of a two-dose vaccine, no matter the brands of the vaccine.