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Interchanging vaccines safe in fight against COVID-19, says MOH

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Interchanging or mixing vaccines is an effective way to gain protection against COVID-19, says Brant’s acting medical officer of health.

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During his weekly media briefing Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Malcolm Lock emphasized that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are equally good.

“All of these combinations have been approved by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and have been deemed safe.”

Over the weekend, the Brant County Health Unit was notified that this week’s Pfizer delivery would be delayed provincewide. So, all adults aged 18 and older will be receiving the Moderna vaccine for first and second doses at clinics in Brantford and Paris until later this week.  The health unit said that its limited supply of Pfizer vaccine will be reserved for young people, aged 12 to 17, as it is the only vaccine authorized for use for that age group.

The health unit said all vaccination appointments at its clinics will be honoured because there is a sufficient local supply of Moderna vaccine

“We take our direction from the Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization and they say these two vaccines are interchangeable biologically,” said Lock. “Everything, including side effects, are equal. There’s even some anecdotal information to say that mixing the two may give a better immune result.”

Jo Ann Tober, health unit CEO, said “a handful” of appointment cancellations had been received.

“Mixing vaccine brands and schedules is not a new concept,” said Lock.

“Similar vaccines from different manufacturers are used when vaccine supply or public health programs change.”

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He said people have frequently received different vaccines for influenza, hepatitis A and other viruses in order to complete a “vaccine series.”

He said it is “crucial” for people to complete their vaccine series to protect against COVID variants.

Lock also said any first- and second-dose combinations will count as a completed vaccine series.

With more than 131,000 vaccines given locally — 34,273 of them second doses – Lock said that 71 per cent of local residents now have at least one dose of vaccine and 24 per cent are fully protected.

The health unit has recently adjusted its population figures.

Previously, it was using a projected population number of 160,443 for Brantford and Brant County, with an estimated 32,650 people younger than 18.

That number has been adjusted to fit the numbers being used by the government to 155,205, which includes Six Nations residents.

It’s estimated that there are almost 21,000 people under the age of 12 who would not be getting vaccines and there are 10,700 who are 12 and older, but under 18.

As the demand for first doses has eased, the health unit is offering walk-in clinics, with no appointments needed, for anyone 12 or older for first doses only,

Those clinics will be at the Market Street location on June 23, 25 and 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on June 24 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The same type of walk-in clinic will be at the Paris fairgrounds location on June 23, 24 and 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

SGamble@postmedia.com

@EXPSGamble

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