British Columbia won’t be offering third doses of COVID-19 vaccine to those with mixed immunizations, says the province’s top doctor.
Instead, the province will work with Health Canada and public health agencies in other countries to ensure that mixed doses are permitted for international travel.
“I know there’s a lot of concern about mixed vaccine acceptance around the world,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, in a Tuesday presser.
She asked the public to be patient as the province undertakes the work of ensuring those with “mixed vaccine schedules” are considered fully-immunized across the globe.
Her comments come in the wake of rising frustration and confusion from B.C. residents who received some combination of Comirnaty, Spikevax and Vaxzevria, formally known as the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines, respectively.
Some say they got the first shots available to them in adherence to guidance from public health officials, even if that meant mixed doses. Now, they’re worried they won’t be able to travel anytime soon.
“As I understand it, in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec, people in my situation who took a dose of AstraZeneca and a second MRNA shot are being offered a third dose,” said resident Lora Haber, who has been unable to visit her family in the United States.
“So they can have two doses of an MRNA so they can travel internationally, but in B.C. that isn’t the case.”
As it stands, the U.S. Centre for Disease control doesn’t consider anyone with a mix of Vaxzevria, and another mRNA vaccine, to be fully-immunized.
Canada, too, has strict rules about which vaccine mixes pass muster with its health officials. Health Canada does not consider those with shots of China’s SinoPharm or Russia’s Sputnik, for example, to be fully-immunized.
Vaccinated with SinoPharm, one international student from Dubai recently told Global News she had to get a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose so she could study in Canada.
Right now, Health Canada is considering approvals for vaccines from Medicago and Novavax, but has not received any applications for approval for Chinese vaccines.
Haber said she doesn’t think the onus is on other countries to accommodate Canadians’ mixed doses, but on the Canadian government to ensure its citizens can travel.
“What I think is that the people who were advised by the Canadian health authorities to take these mixed vaccines, to get some backup so that we have the option to travel internationally,” she said.
— with files from Ted Chernecki and Saba Aziz
Editor’s Note: This article was updated at 11:10 a.m. PST on Sept. 29 to correct an error. It previously stated that the U.S. does not accept visitors with a dose of Vaxzevria and another mRNA vaccine. In fact, it accepts those visitors but does not consider them fully immunized.View link »