Newfoundland and Labrador's top doctor says the province will shorten the gap between COVID-19 vaccine doses from 16 weeks to eight because supply is increasing.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald made the announcement Wednesday during the province's weekly COVID-19 briefing, the same day the provincial government unveiled its plan to reopen N.L. to recreational travel from within Canada.
Fitzgerald said more information will be available later this week about moving people's appointments up, starting with those who are booked for a second shot in late July and early August.
Health Minister John Haggie said the wait time is being cut because of an increase in vaccine supply from Pfizer and Moderna, which will allow distribution through pharmacists and physicians. They will receive the Moderna vaccine for administration, said Haggie, but he added the Moderna supply chain is "somewhat erratic."
"All along, our challenge has been having vaccine in numbers," Haggie said. "Those numbers are not controlled by us. We get our share pro-rata of the Canadian population basically. So it's coming, and as soon as it comes we will pass it along."
As of Wednesday, more than 300,000 people across the province have received their first dose of vaccine, according to Furey.
Meanwhile, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization says a first shot of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine can be followed by a shot of either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech for the second dose.
Fitzgerald said people might want to consult with their health-care provider to decide which vaccine is right for them.
"Both options provide an effective immune response and offer good protection against severe illness from COVID-19," she said.
Fitzgerald said people can still choose to have second shot of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, and the risk of blood clots associated with vaccine does not appear to be as high as it is for first doses.
Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to receive 38,260 doses of vaccine this week.