Ottawa

Ottawa to delay second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supply dwindles

The City of Ottawa says it has to delay second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for some people who have already received their first shot due to a temporary shortage of vaccines. 

Shipment delays from Pfizer-BioNTech mean city will not get more vaccines next week

Some Ottawa long-term care home residents and staff may find themselves waiting longer than 21 days for their booster shot as the city tries to manage a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines. (Hans Pennink/The Associated Press)

The City of Ottawa says it has to delay second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for some people who have already received their first shot due to a temporary shortage of vaccines. 

Anthony Di Monte, general manager of emergency and protective services, said Wednesday some long-term care home and retirement home staff, residents and essential caregivers will have to wait up to 27 days, or nearly a week longer than the 21-day period that's recommended.

For others who received their first vaccine, they may have to wait up to 42 days, he said. 

The federal government announced on Friday Canada would be getting fewer COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech over the next few weeks because the company has to make changes to a production line in Belgium to grow its manufacturing capacity.

In Ottawa, that means the city will be getting no new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines next week, said Di Monte. The supply the city does have will be focused on ensuring that those who are due for a booster will get their second shot as soon as possible.

The first dose of vaccines have already been administered to more than 92 per cent of long-term care home residents in Ottawa at all 28 facilities. Residents at one at-risk retirement home and one congregant living setting have also been vaccinated, said Di Monte.

"Our next step is to administer the second dose to those individuals who have already received their first dose of the vaccine. Depending on the vaccine supply we receive from the province, which we know will be minimal in the next few weeks, we will then shift our focus to the high-risk retirement homes," said Di Monte.

Ottawa has 36 high-risk retirement homes and so far, only the one has received doses of the vaccine. 

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa's medical officer of health, said delays beyond 21-day gap are permitted under guidelines established by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

"The recommendation is of course to follow the dosing schedule as much as we can," she said. "But in the context of limited supply ... jurisdictions can maximize the number of individuals that are getting the benefit from the vaccine by going ahead with the first dose and delaying the second dose."

While there isn't data to show what effects waiting up to 42 days may have on the COVID-19 vaccine efficacy, typically delays in booster shots do not affect the durability of vaccines, she said.

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