With COVID-19 vaccine supply pumping up across Canada, second doses should be doled out as soon as possible, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) said Friday.
“It is important that second doses start as soon as possible, particularly for those who are at highest risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19,” NACI chair Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh said in a statement.
While the “16-week interval was the upper limit,” provinces and territories should “aim to start administering second doses as quickly as regional logistics allows it,” Quach-Thanh also said.
“First doses have been a highly effective starting point from a population immunity perspective, and we now need to move towards our second doses to provide more complete long-term protection.”
However, the health committee maintained that “extending dose intervals allows many more people to receive good protection from severe COVID-19 outcomes much sooner.”
“NACI continues to recommend that jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first,” the committee said.
This week, several Canadian provinces — including Ontario and British Columbia — announced that they will be administering second doses of COVID-19 vaccine sooner than expected.
“Everything is trending in the right direction,” Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said at a press conference on Thursday.
He also said provinces that can administer second shots sooner should do so.
Vaccine experts and infectious disease specialists have also been urging provinces to move faster to start getting second doses into the arms of Canadians, particularly seniors and people with high-risk health conditions.“We definitely need to get a move on,” Dr. David Naylor, co-chair of the national immunity task force, said Thursday in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“I think there are compelling reasons to be picking up the pace on second doses.”
— With files from The Canadian Press