A short delay in Ontario’s shipment of Pfizer vaccine prompted Southwestern Public Health earlier this week to move some clinics to Moderna for its adult vaccinations.
“At all of our clinics we will be providing whatever vaccine we have in supply,” said medical officer of health Dr. Joyce Lock. “And the supply is going up and down and back and forth between the different brands so quickly that all we can say is that when you come to the clinic, we’ll tell you what vaccine you’re getting. On any given day we won’t be sure what vaccine we will have (for adults) at the clinics – it will depend on how the supplies of Moderna and Pfizer roll out over the next several weeks.
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“We understand that at least for the next week or two we will have large quantities of Moderna,” Lock added. “So you can expect that you will see Moderna at the clinics.”
Clinics offered Pfizer to all youth age 12 to 17 on June 21 and adults seeking second doses of Pfizer. All first doses to adults were Moderna.
On June 22-25, clinics would offer Moderna exclusively for adults, and Pfizer for youth 12 to 17.
An Ingersoll pop-up clinic on June 24 was to offer Pfizer to anyone with an appointment.
“Like public health units across the province, we’re faced with a delayed shipment of Pfizer,” said Jaime Fletcher, program manager overseeing Southwestern Public Health’s mass immunization program. “And like our public health colleagues, we are encouraging you to attend your appointment as scheduled. It is critically important we get doses in arms quickly before the Delta variant becomes the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the province. Fortunately, we have a large amount of Moderna available, so we don’t have to cancel anyone’s appointments.”
“This week we were notified of a huge shipment of Moderna,” said Lock on June 16, urging residents to focus not on the brand, but on the importance of being fully vaccinated with two doses of vaccine.
“The interchangeability of Pfizer and Moderna means that you can receive one vaccine product for your first dose and a different vaccine product for your second dose,” she said.
This has led to many questions about vaccine mixing, Lock continued.
“Health Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Health and the National Advisory Council on Immunization endorse the idea that the mRNA vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer are interchangeable. The same authorities have endorsed the use of a mRNA vaccine as a second dose following a first dose of the AstraZeneca. This approach offers a robust immune response and offers protection against the high risk Delta variant, which is very contagious and makes people more ill than the original virus.
“We must not get stuck on a brand. Vaccine mixing is a safe and standard practice for immunization when there are supply concerns. The brand name does not determine the quality of the product you are receiving or how effective it will be. So instead of choosing Team Pfizer or Team Moderna, choose Team Full Protection. Get whatever vaccine you are offered to complete your (two-dose) series.”
Eleven new COVID-19 cases were reported in the Southwestern Public Health region over the weekend., with 30 active cases in Oxford and Elgin counties, including one in Tillsonburg.
One case in the region was in hospital as of Monday (not in ICU).
It’s a slight increase from the previous week, said Lock.
“Please do not let your guard down, we know how quickly cases can climb back up. A good rule of thumb is to avoid the three C’s. Close contact, crowded places, and closed In spaces.”
If you haven’t already, Lock is urging people to get vaccinated.
As of June 16, 126,194 have had at least one dose of vaccine in the Oxford-Elgin region (59.3 per cent of the total population 211,000).
Provincially, 75.2 per cent as of June 16, over the age of 18, have had at least one dose, compared to 72.8 per cent of Oxford-Elgin’s 18-and-over population.
“We are slightly behind … but increasing our clinics’ capacity all the time in order to catch up.”
When it comes to vaccine protection, a first dose is good, said Lock. But a second dose is even better.
“It’s the second dose that offers the immunity that will end this pandemic.”
Last week, earlier second doses were available to anyone over the age of 70, or anyone who had their first dose before May 9.
“We are working hand in hand with Middlesex London health unit because we share the booking system, so we are working down the priorities as laid down by the Ministry of Health. That is also dependent on how many of our appointments are filled up. As long as our appointments are full, we’ll stick with that. If we start to find that we have extra spaces at our mass immunization clinics we will approach the province… to determine whether is appropriate to move down more rapidly. So it will be dependent on vaccine supply from the province and vaccine demand for first and second doses by our citizens.”
You can book a vaccine appointment online at www.covidvaccinelm.ca and choose from any appointments available across the region. Those living in Oxford or Elgin counties who need assistance can call 1-800-922-0096, ext. 9 for support.