An Edmonton pharmacist said Friday a shortage of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine has led to brand hesitancy in many Edmontonians needing to have their second dose.
“Now we’re seeing concepts like brand hesitancy, where’s there’s been a preference of one brand over the other,” pharmacist Eddie Wong said.
Wong said he’s noticed roughly 40 per cent of customers who have their first dose of Pfizer won’t get the Moderna vaccine.
“Once they hear that we’re giving Moderna, there’s been a little bit of a pushback,” Wong said.
Wong said because of that, many Moderna vials are not being opened and added efforts are underway to offer excess doses at risk of being thrown away.
Teresa Bourne is one of many Edmontonians who received Pfizer as a first dose. When she went to book her second dose, only Moderna was available.
She said the brand did matter to her.
“(It’s) a little disconcerting because you always hope to keep continuity,” Bourne said.
Bourne said despite not wanting to initially mix vaccines, she did end up getting Moderna for her second shot.
“I’m just happy to be vaccinated so I can travel.”
Alberta Health said provincial data shows Moderna is 94 per cent effective, compared to 90 per cent for Pfizer.
“Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be used interchangeably,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Tuesday.
“It does not matter which brand you get for your second dose. They are both safe and effective.”
Wong said he hopes more Albertans will get Moderna as their second dose so Alberta can move past the pandemic.
“We hear stories about countries that don’t have access to vaccines at all and here we are having challenges to give them to patients.”
For those only wanting Pfizer, Alberta Health said it expects 280,000 doses next week and more in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, it won’t specifically be setting aside Pfizer doses for those aged 12 to 17, who are only eligible for that vaccine.
Vaccine appointments can be booked through Alberta Health Services, participating pharmacies and select doctor’s offices.