P.E.I. will delay 2nd vaccine dose to speed 1st shot for more Islanders
Province hopes to have all adults over 16 vaccinated with at least one dose by July 1
Following the lead of British Columbia, P.E.I. is delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine for those who have already gotten one shot, in order to give more people their first vaccine shot earlier.
Premier Dennis King told Vassy Kapelos on CBC's Power and Politics that P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Office had been in conversations with colleagues across the country and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).
He said the latest research suggests two-dose vaccines, such as produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, can be effective in the short term with a single dose.
At a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday, Dr. Heather Morrison confirmed P.E.I. will move toward delaying the second dose of vaccine. She said with new vaccines arriving, officials are now hoping to have all adults over 16 vaccinated with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by July 1.
"All people over 80 will get two doses based on existing appointments, but going forward, others will have longer intervals between doses," she said.
The goal is to achieve herd immunity by vaccinating 80% of the population with at least one dose, she said.
Morrison said second doses will definitely be required for full immunity, but research suggests they can be administered three or four months after the first ones.
Pharmacists will be involved
Morrison said there will be mass clinics "and our pharmacy partners will be involved as well."
Asked whether she feels the July 1 target for everyone eligible to get one dose is achievable, she noted that 80,000 influenza vaccines were delivered in P.E.I. in three months last year without mass clinics being necessary.
As of Saturday, 12,596 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered on Prince Edward Island, and 7,377 people had received at least one dose.
NACI has not yet issued guidance on delaying second doses, but there have been reports that the committee will do that soon. A recommendation from NACI would make Canadians more comfortable with the idea, King said.
King was also asked about the current lockdown on the Island, following the discovery of clusters of cases in Charlottetown and Summerside.
The 72-hour lockdown is scheduled to lift Thursday, though some restrictions will stay in place until the second week of March.
King said the final decision on lifting the lockdown will depend on two things: determining the source of the outbreak and seeing signs that it is under control.
Morrison said a decision on lifting or extending the circuit breaker measures will be made on Wednesday.
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With files from Power and Politics