Concerns around mixing COVID-19 vaccine doses have started to arise locally after various jurisdictions have begun to label mixed-dose recipients as not fully immunized.
“In Canada, combining vaccines is allowed. However, in certain other jurisdictions, it's not,” said Dr. Ian Arra, medical officer of health for the Grey Bruce Health Unit (GBHU). “So, if people don't have two matching doses of Pfizer or two doses of Moderna, they will not be considered by that jurisdiction as fully immunized.”
Despite the varied responses to mixed doses, Arra suggested it is best to refer back to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), which states that two doses of the same brand of vaccine is ideal, but two different brand doses are acceptable.
In the current circumstances, Arra said it is better to mix brands than it is to prolong receiving your second shot.
“At the level of managing a pandemic, I would encourage people to get the first vaccine they can,” Arra said during a Grey County council meeting held on Thursday.
“However, in our area, we have enough vaccines that we're providing both Moderna and Pfizer in every clinic that we deploy. That started a few days ago and that will ensure that people will have a choice,” he added.
Moving forward, Arra suggested that there may be a third dose provided to those who have received mixed doses. However, at this time, a booster or third dose is not being offered or recommended.
“Giving a booster vaccine is useful in different scenarios for people who have low-level of immunity or an immunocompromised condition. It will definitely be based on that need. For the general public, a booster at this point is not warranted,” Arra said.
When it comes to proof of vaccination, Arra said that it is unlikely we will see vaccine passports in Ontario and for now it is best to ensure you have your vaccine receipt.
“My understanding from discussion at the provincial level is that the passport approach is not desirable. There will most likely be more local approaches where there is encouragement for employers to have vaccine policies,” he said.
The GBHU is already strongly recommending that all workplaces develop a vaccine policy that encourages all eligible employees to get two doses of the vaccine, as well as allowing employees time off to get the vaccine.
In addition, businesses and employers in Grey and Bruce counties with more than 20 employees wanting to be vaccinated can request a pop-up clinic at the workplace. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Ontarians aged 12 years or older are eligible to rebook their second-dose appointments for an earlier time. Appointments can be made through the provincial on-line booking system for COVID-19 vaccinations at ontario.ca/bookvaccine.
Those without access to the internet can call the toll-free number 1-888-999-6488. For additional information on the health unit’s vaccine roll out program, visit the GBHU website.
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca