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Some cancelling appointments at mass immunization sites due to Pfizer delay: HKPR Health Unit

Click to play video: 'Some cancelling appointments at mass immunization sites due to Pfizer delay: HKPR Health Unit' Some cancelling appointments at mass immunization sites due to Pfizer delay: HKPR Health Unit
The medical officer of health for the HKPR Health Unit is trying to ensure the public that a second dose of the COVID vaccine is extremely important. Even if the brand doesn't match your first dose. Mark Giunta reports – Jun 23, 2021

Earlier this week, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (HKPR) District Health Unit had to pivot its five mass immunization sites to use Moderna vaccines for those who are 18 years of age and older.

The reason is the delay in the shipment of the Pfizer vaccine, which is leading to its shortage across the province.

The HKPR Health Unit was able to not cancel any appointments by switching from Pfizer to Moderna this week.

But medical officer of health Dr. Natalie Bocking told reporters on her weekly virtual media call that an undisclosed ‘small number’ of people showed up at mass sites this week and decided to leave because they weren’t receiving Pfizer.

“I would encourage that if individuals arrive at clinic and it’s not the vaccine you are not expecting, take the opportunity to talk to staff at the clinic,” she said.

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Read more: Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine delay means HKPR health unit will shift to Moderna vaccine at mass clinics

“We’re finding when people wait for that discussion what the options are and risks and benefits are, do choose to then still have the Moderna vaccine given that day.”

Dr. Bocking said they’re treating the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines as interchangeable and advises residents to not wait or cancel a second dose appointment just because they received Pfizer for a first dose, but are being offered Moderna now.

“Don’t delay your second dose, so you can try to receive Pfizer.  Go ahead with Moderna because that will be the one that’s readily available because of supply in the region.  Both are unpredictable because of supply and delivery,” she said.

“There are a lot of examples where a different vaccine is used for your booster dose and that’s really what the second dose is – a booster for your immune system.  They can be interchanged.  It’s safe to do so and it’s effective to do so.”

Click to play video: 'Health officials allay concerns about mixing mRNA vaccines' Health officials allay concerns about mixing mRNA vaccines
Health officials allay concerns about mixing mRNA vaccines – Jun 21, 2021

The health unit was receiving approximately 9,300 doses of Pfizer each week prior to the shipment delay, which Dr. Bocking said would be likely a one-time thing.

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But she did note that the allocation for Pfizer within HKPR will dip to approximately 3,500 doses per week in July before increasing again later in the month.

So far, Moderna has been the less dependable for shipments.

But the health unit did get 7,200 doses last week and are expecting another similar sized shipment later this week.

Read more: COVID-19: Outbreak lifted at Central East Correctional Centre; 1 new case in Kawartha Lakes

Dr. Bocking noted there were approximately 1,500 open appointments at the five mass immunization sites until early July.

And as more Moderna comes to the region, pharmacies, primary health-care providers and even pop-up clinics will continue to increase appointment availability.

As of Monday, 125,221 residents have received a first dose, which is roughly 75 per cent of the adult population in the HKPR jurisdiction.

21.2 per cent have received two doses and 47.5 per cent aged 12-17 have received a first dose.

There are approximately 47,000 HKPR residents that are eligible for a first dose that have not received one yet.

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