Canada’s vaccine advisory committee says the provinces and territories should give as many Canadians as possible their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before offering the second.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) published updated guidelines Wednesday morning on the interval between doses after members reviewed updated research, which aligns with the “rapid” response recommendations members made last month.
“NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply and ongoing pandemic disease, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first,” reads NACI’s updated recommendations.
The committee said based on supply, they expect the interval between the first and second dose to be less than four months
“Second doses should be offered as soon as possible after all eligible populations have been offered first doses, with priority given to those at highest risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 disease,” said NACI.
The committee said that based on the expected supply of mRNA vaccines alone, extending dose intervals up to four months will allow 90 per cent of adults over 50 years of age and 75 per cent of adults aged 16 to 49 to receive a first dose of vaccine by the middle of June 2021.
Members of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and health officials is holding a technical briefing on the evidence at 11 a.m. ET.
CBC News online is carrying it live.
On March 3, NACI recommended that the maximum interval between the first and second doses of the Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccines should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated.
NACI, an external advisory body that provides independent immunization advice to the Public Health Agency of Canada, said it will continue to monitor the evidence on effectiveness of an extended dose interval and will adjust recommendations as needed.
The Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health, which includes the chief medical officer of health from each province and territory, Canada’s chief public health officer, the chief medical adviser of Health Canada, the chief medical officer of public health of Indigenous Services Canada, and the chief medical officer from the First Nations Health Authority, applauded the decision.
“Having as many eligible individuals as possible receive an effective first vaccine dose means that we can provide a very high level of protection to more people quickly, saving lives and reducing illness,” the group said in a statement.
“This critical first dose will lead to reduced transmission in the community and protect those who do not develop a strong response individually. Once this is achieved, specific populations may be prioritized to receive their second dose as soon as possible.”