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B.C. health officials discourage ‘brand shopping,’ say Moderna and Pfizer are ‘the same vaccines’

Click to play video: 'More Pfizer first-dosers will be getting Moderna second dose' More Pfizer first-dosers will be getting Moderna second dose
More British Columbians who got the Pfizer vaccine for their first dose will be getting the Moderna vaccine for their second. Keith Baldrey reports – Jun 22, 2021

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says British Columbians should stop COVID-19 vaccine “brand shopping” and focus on the similarity between mRNA vaccines.

This comes as some British Columbians are cancelling vaccination appointments if they are offered Moderna when they received Pfizer as their first vaccine dose or vice-versa.

“You know what? I think there’s a little bit of brand shopping in that people who get Moderna are on Team Moderna, and people who get Pfizer are on Team Pfizer, and same with AstraZeneca,” Henry said.

“Really, what we need to focus on right now is that the mRNA vaccines really are — I think it was described in one of the articles I read as water bottled by different companies. They are very much the same antigen, the part that stimulates your immune system. They’re wrapped in a different lipid nanoparticle, but other than that, they are interchangeable, and we’ve seen with millions of people now that it is safe and effective to do that.”

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Click to play video: 'Less Pfizer vaccine expected in B.C. during first two weeks of July' Less Pfizer vaccine expected in B.C. during first two weeks of July
Less Pfizer vaccine expected in B.C. during first two weeks of July – Jun 17, 2021

The National Advisory Committee of Immunization has approved the mixing and matching doses of mRNA vaccines.

The committee also updated its recommendations last week, saying mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna, are the preferred second doses for those who took AstraZeneca as their first dose, due to the “better immune response” generated by mixing and matching vaccines.

There is an expectation that mixing and matching will be required more often due to current shipments of vaccine. A vast majority of British Columbians received Pfizer as their first dose but will likely be offered Moderna as a second dose.

Community clinics are expected to stock both mRNA vaccines but may run out of Pfizer.

Read more: Some Canadians denied Moderna COVID-19 shots amid Pfizer delays

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The province is expecting 327,000 doses of Pfizer this week. As of Tuesday, there were just 40,000 doses of Pfizer remaining. The province is also setting aside doses of Pfizer for those between the ages of 12 and 17 as it is currently the only vaccine approved for people in that age group.

“Currently, it is Moderna that we have quite a lot of right now, and will have in the next few weeks, and we’ve received word that there may be some decrease in the Pfizer shipments that we’re receiving, particularly in the coming weeks,” Henry said.

“We will do our best to make sure that we have both products available at our clinics, but sometimes that simply isn’t possible, and with the millions of doses of vaccines that have been delivered here in Canada, and across the world, we are confident that both of these mRNA vaccines are safe and effective and can be used interchangeably.”

Click to play video: 'What will a major new shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine mean for B.C.’s vaccination program?' What will a major new shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine mean for B.C.’s vaccination program?
What will a major new shipment of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine mean for B.C.’s vaccination program? – Jun 11, 2021

The province is expected to receive a staggering 896,000 doses of Moderna in the next week.

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As of Tuesday, 77.7 per cent of all adults and 76.2 per cent of everyone 12 and older have received their first vaccine dose of vaccine. The province has now administered 1,001,192 second doses.

“If you are offered the other mRNA vaccine, please be assured that it is safe and it is effective to have either one of these products here in Canada and here in B.C.,” Henry said.

“They are both highly effective and very safe. Really, these are the same vaccines.”

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