Canadians can potentially receive their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine sooner than expected as millions more doses continue to be delivered across the country, according to deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo.
“Canada does not have a one-dose strategy, we’ve always had a two-dose strategy,” said Njoo in a press conference about the country’s vaccine rollout Thursday. “The issue is about extending the dose interval between the first and second doses, so I think obviously more doses coming to the country very quickly, we’re well on track to offer that second dose.”
“I think we’re on track to shorten the interval depending obviously on supply.”
Njoo’s comments were in response to a question on when Canada would have enough supply of the vaccines to offer second doses of the vaccine “more aggressively.”
Prior to Canada’s ramp-up in vaccine deliveries, the country’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended a delay for second doses up to a maximum of four months — much longer than the manufacturers’ recommendation of three to four weeks.
As the country is set to receive millions more vaccines in the coming weeks, some provinces are also now beginning to shorten that interval between shots for some specific at-risk groups.
Manitoba for one is set to start offering some second doses Friday, as well as opening their vaccine eligibility to those as young as 12.
Ontario this week shortened their second dose intervals for health-care workers and some high-risk groups, while Quebec bumped up their second shot for those living with certain conditions and poor immune responses to the vaccine.
Alberta and Saskatchewan have also released plans detailing their timelines on a potential second dose, while B.C. officials said they were still monitoring vaccine supplies before making a call to move up dates for a potential second dose.
Experts also told Global News on Wednesday that the surge in new shots provides Canada a good opportunity to shorten appointment times for second doses — especially for the most at-risk groups.
— With files from Global News’ Rachael D’Amore