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BC to stretch second doses of COVID vaccine to 42 days amid production delay

BC to stretch second doses

British Columbia is extending the interval between the two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the province's top doctor said Monday.

Dr. Bonnie Henry told a news briefing that further delays in the production and delivery of the vaccine over the next two weeks prompted health officials to extend the time period between the shots from 35 to 42 days.

"It's about choosing in the short term to give more people protection from dose one instead of giving some people full protection and leaving others with none," she said. "We will make up these doses and we will be providing the second dose of vaccine to everybody as soon as we possibly can."

The province had assured residents last week that it remained committed to administering second doses on Day 35 and Henry said officials learned over the weekend B.C. would receive even fewer doses than expected.

"The amounts that we were expecting to receive in the first week of February have been dramatically reduced," she said, adding B.C. officials do not yet know how many doses are set to arrive later next month.

The federal government is doing everything in its power to make sure vaccine supply gets back on track, Henry added.

Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization has said prolonging the wait to 42 days is acceptable in places where vaccine supply is limited and where transmission of the illness is high and health-care resources are strained. The World Health Organization has also suggested that waiting up to six weeks after the first dose is acceptable.

About 60 per cent of the more than 119,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered in B.C. so far have been used to protect residents of assisted living and long-term care facilities, said Henry.

That total includes all of the facilities in the Island, Vancouver Coastal and Fraser health regions, she said, while vaccinations in long-term care in the Interior and Northern health authorities are set to wrap up this week.

B.C. recorded 26 more deaths linked to COVID-19 on Monday and 1,344 new cases diagnosed over the last three days.



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