Toronto’s mass immunization clinics will only be administering the Moderna mRNA vaccine to people aged 18 and up starting on Sunday as the delivery of the city’s weekly Pfizer vaccine supply will be delayed.
The city announced the change Saturday after Toronto Public Health was informed by the province that the shipment of the more than 162,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will not arrive in freezers as scheduled on Monday.
As a result, the city will instead administer Moderna vaccines to honour bookings at its clinics “as it is interchangeable with Pfizer.”
Earlier this month, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended that if the mRNA vaccine a person received as their first dose is not available, they can be offered another mRNA shot to complete their vaccination.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, said in a statement that administering shots should not be delayed despite the setback.
“With the Delta variant growing at an exponential rate in Toronto, vaccines are one of our key strategies to slow transmission. Both Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are interchangeable, equally effective and safe for everyone over 18 years,” she said.
“If you have an appointment, keep it. If you don’t have an appointment for a first or second dose, make one as soon as you are eligible.”
The city said its limited supply of the Pfizer vaccine will be reserved for youth between the ages of 12 and 17. The Pfizer shot is the only vaccine approved in Canada that can be used for that age group.
“Clinic staff will ensure clients are aware of which vaccine brand they will be receiving, however, there will be no opportunity for clients to request or switch to a particular vaccine brand,” the city said, adding that its vaccine partners are also making similar adjustments.
Peel Public Health also announced Saturday that its Pfizer supply for next week will be delayed.
As a result, from June 21 to at least June 24, all Peel clinics will only offer Moderna vaccines for all booked appointments by individuals 18 years old and up.
Pfizer shots will continue to be administered to those aged 12 to 17, the region said.
“This Pfizer shipment delay provides us an opportunity to remind our community of the clear science around interchangeability. Our community Mass Vaccination Program has again built out to full capacity to quickly achieve broad two-dose coverage in Peel,” Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel Region’s medical officer of health, said in a statement.
Subject to provincial allocation, we will continue to use all available supplies of approved vaccine to keep our reopening on track.”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said the delivery of Pfizer doses has been delayed for two to three days.
“We have a large supply of Moderna doses which will be used to supplement the delayed Pfizer doses,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“If you had Moderna or Pfizer for your first dose, you can safely take either Moderna or Pfizer for your second dose for strong protection. Both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are authorized for use in Canada and use a similar mRNA technology, so the vaccines are interchangeable and safe to mix.”