The National Immunization Advisory Committee (NACI) said Canada could give the first dose of vaccine to 75% of the adult population by mid-June if the provinces extend the two doses up to 4 months.
This way, nine out of 10 adults over 50 and 75% of adults 16 to 49 will be able to get their first dose of the vaccine in mid-June.
However, they still urge the government to provide a second dose “as soon as possible” after all eligible groups of residents have received the first dose.
Officials are expected to tighten the time between doses as more vaccines become available. Later in the press conference, they said the period could be reduced to about two months.
The two-dose vaccine regimens were originally mandated to be administered no more than three to four weeks apart. However, in March, NACI stretched that interval to up to four months amid vaccine shortages.
Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are being given three months apart in the United Kingdom, though officials acknowledged on Wednesday that Canada “might be the only one” with a four-month interval.
According to the NACI report, there are many benefits of giving one shot to as many people as possible – even if that means delaying a second dose.
“Vaccination of larger numbers of people with vaccines that prevent infection and transmission will not only protect the vaccinated individual but those around them as well,” the report explained.
As variants continue to surge across the country, NACI acknowledged that the impact these intervals might have on the emergence of variants is unknown – but there is “no evidence” the intervals will either “increase or decrease the emergence of variants of concern.”
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