British Columbia health officials are working to determine how to prioritize who gets a COVID-19 immunization, amid a reduction in shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine they admit will have a significant effect.
Pfizer has announced a temporary delay in shipments of the vaccine as it scales up its European production centre.
That means that the 50,000-dose shipment British Columbia was expecting in February will be slashed in half.
“In some sectors the delivery will be delayed and that is just the reality we face,” Dix told Global News on Friday.
“What it will really affect is the February and March period … it obviously impacts the priority groups and second doses as well.”
Dix added that there was no interruption in the supply of the Moderna vaccine, and that the delay would have little effect on Pfizer shipments next week.
In an interview with Global’s Focus BC, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said her team was working to determine who will and won’t get their shot in that time period.
Officials must weigh whether to skip some front-line workers who are still waiting for their shot, or to extend the time period between when each person receives their first and second dose.
Pfizer guidelines call for the doses to be administered 21 days apart, while Canada’s vaccine advisory committee has recommended vaccines be given a maximum of 42 days after the first.
“People need to be reassured that even after 48 days and longer, it does not just drop off dramatically,” Henry said.
“We will look at how much vaccine is coming in, how many people are due to get their vaccine in that week (when) we will have less, and then we will have to make decisions on we have to optimize who gets vaccine at that time.”
Henry said the silver lining of the temporary delay in doses was that the work Pfizer is doing at its plant will allow it to produce more vaccine down the road, some of which will come to British Columbia.
As of Friday, B.C. had given at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to nearly 76,000 people.
The province has concentrated distribution of its first doses of vaccine to front-line health-care workers, those working and living in long-term care facilities and First Nations communities.
Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Friday the issues at Pfizer’s Belgium plant would result in an be an “unfortunate” situation where Canada would see its expected shipment of vaccine in February cut in half.
— With files from Richard Zussman and the Canadian Press
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