Facing a reduction of — and now delay in — Pfizer vaccine shipments, and an abundance of Moderna doses, some Saskatchewan residents are starting to mix and match brands of first and second doses in order to become fully immunized against COVID-19.
“You have to be nimble on the logistical side to be able to adapt to these types of changes that are happening really quickly,” said Regina infectious disease doctor Alexander Wong, weighing in on the evolving situation.
“Trying to proactively message around how all this was OK, and going and getting your second mRNA dose, regardless of which it was, was OK, was definitely something that’s valuable.”
Over the past few months, Pfizer shipments have boomed across the country and in Saskatchewan.
In this province as of June 15, 491,958 people had received a first dose of Pfizer. With Moderna supply chain issues earlier in the immunization campaign, 132,076 had received that brand while 73,943 received doses of AstraZeneca.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is not only recommending that first doses of AstraZeneca be followed up with mRNA vaccines, but that Pfizer and Moderna, as mRNA vaccines, can be mixed as well.
According to the federal government’s vaccine allocation forecast, Saskatchewan is expecting 74,880 doses of Pfizer this week, but the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced Tuesday that the most recent Pfizer shipment to the province was being delayed.
At the same time, there’s been an uptick in the supply of Moderna. The federal government says 205,380 doses are on the way from June 21-27.
The SHA says the situation means some people with booked appointments expecting to get Pfizer will be notified that they’ll be offered Moderna instead.
Less Pfizer than before was already in the forecast, though, and provincial clinics were already pivoting.
The Core-Ritchie walk-in clinic in central Regina, which previously offered Pfizer, was advertising Moderna on Tuesday.
While some people Global News spoke to were there for a first dose, many were there for a second — and had already had Pfizer.
Ali Hamid said he would have preferred Pfizer again, but “if it’s the same it doesn’t matter to me as long as I get protected.”
Hanna Ermel agreed with the sentiment.
“Ideally, I would have liked to have gotten Pfizer again, but at this point, I’m just going to take what I can get,” she said. “I want to protect myself, I want to protect my family and I really want to get back to life before COVID.”
Michael Taylor said he was a little worried about mixing and matching, but after looking into it, decided to go for it.
“I’m not too worried. I just want to move this thing along and get back to regular society,” he said.
Jeph Maystruck said he actually didn’t know what was being offered at the clinic when he arrived, but was excited to get a second dose of whatever.
“I think science tells us that it doesn’t matter what you get the second time,” he said. “If the doctors are telling us it’s fine, there’s no worry whatsoever.”
Given the recent supply issues with Pfizer, Lucia Fiacco said she’s relieved that mixing and matching is an option.
“I’m fine with mixing. I just want to get them both,” she said of her first and second shots.