New guidance from Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is now saying that second doses of COVID-19 vaccines should be offered "soon as possible."
This comes after the committee's previous guidance to extend the dose interval to up to 16 weeks, based on vaccine supply and to allow more people to receive first-dose protection sooner.
NACI states that priority for second-dose appointments should be given to individuals at highest risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19.
"Now that we are very quickly approaching the point where first doses are being offered to all eligible adults and adolescents, it is important that second doses start as soon as possible, particularly for those who are at highest risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19," a statement from Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh, NACI Chair reads.
"The 16-week interval was the upper limit and provinces and territories should aim to start administering second doses as quickly as regional logistics allows it. First doses have been a highly effective starting point from a population immunity perspective, and we now need to move towards our second doses to provide more complete long-term protection."
NACI is also recommending that a complete two-dose mRNA vaccine series be offered to individuals who are immunosuppressed, have an autoimmune condition, are pregnant or are breastfeeding.
When are provinces offering second doses of COVID-19 vaccines?
On Friday, Ontario released its "accelerated" timeline for people in the province to book their appointment to receive the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, beginning with individuals 80 and older on May 31.
On Thursday, the B.C. government announced that it will be moving up the bookings for second dose appointments in the province.
"We are moving up the booking of second doses for our age-based and clinically extremely vulnerable programs to eight weeks," a joint statement from Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, the province's health minister, reads.
"If you are not yet registered, we strongly encourage you to do so today, in which case, you will be notified by email or text for your second dose as soon as your age group comes up. For those people with medical conditions that make you clinically extremely vulnerable, you will receive an invitation to book your Dose 2 appointment in the next few days."
Since the release of the updated NACI guidance, some Canadians took to social media expressing a bit of confusion about the change, while others would simply like to see their province actioning these recommendations.
I get it. Just the whole messaging confusions between NACI and Health Canada on a variety of topics regarding vaccines have been inconsistent and it just creates mistrust
— liv (@ABeautifulLife) May 28, 2021
I think it's fair to say NACI hasn't done a great job communicating anything this year. https://t.co/jiZZY7wbb2
— Chris Clarke (@clarkey) May 28, 2021
NACI provides recommendations and the advice was 2nd doses CAN be provided UP TO 16 weeks. The government has the power and is well within NACI guidance to move this up on their own. Their lack of speed in pivoting is their responsibility alone.
— the word for 2021 is respair (@a_darkcorner) May 26, 2021