Ottawa residents may have to interchange mRNA vaccines as more Moderna doses arrive, city says

OTTAWA — The head of Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout says the city will attempt to have both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines available at all 11 community clinics to offer residents the same dose for a second shot.

But with a flood of Moderna vaccines scheduled to arrive in Ottawa and Canada, general manager of emergency and protective services Anthony Di Monte says at some point, “you’ll be asked to take the mRNA vaccine that’s available to you.”

Ottawa received a shipment of 53,800 doses of Pfizer this week, along with 31,360 doses of Moderna. On Friday, Di Monte told council 27,000 doses of Moderna vaccines were scheduled to arrive on Friday, along with an additional “strategic allocation” of 35,000 Moderna vaccines.

According to the Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard, 498,690 Ottawa residents 12 and older have received a Pfizer vaccine for the first dose, while 115,676 residents have received a first dose of Moderna vaccine. A total of 66,996 residents have received an AstraZeneca vaccine as their first dose.

In an interview on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa Now with guest host Graham Richardson on Friday, Di Monte joked that Ottawa was a “Pfizer community” for the first part of the vaccine rollout.

Di Monte says while Ottawa will continue to receive its weekly shipment of Pfizer doses, there will be “a lot more Moderna.”

“We are going to attempt to have in all our sites kind of a mix, so we’ll try at the beginning to always offer you the first vaccine that you got – so if you got a Moderna, you’ll get a Moderna. If you got a Pfizer, we’ll try to give you a Pfizer,” said Di Monte.

“But I think we will get to a point that will become more and more difficult and so you’ll be able to get a vaccine, there will be a vaccine waiting for you, that’s been our commitment it will be there but it might not be the one you got initially.”

Ottawa Public Health issued a statement this week, encouraging Ottawa residents to take the first COVID-19 vaccine available as your second dose to provide earlier two-dose protection.

Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches told CTV News at Six on Wednesday that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization updated its recommendation on the interchangeability of vaccines.

“The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has said that the COVID vaccines are interchangeable, which means you can start with one vaccine and finish your series with a different one,” said Etches.

“When it comes to the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, they are practically identical in the way the science works, in the way the studies were done, the effectiveness and the side effects – so, this is definitely something we would support. People are trying to get their second dose and as soon as they can.”

Ottawa Public Health insists all COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada are safe and effective and they will reduce the risk of serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths.

On Monday, the Ontario government will expand the eligibility to receive an accelerated second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to residents 18 and older who received their first dose before May 9.

Starting June 28, all adults will be eligible to book an accelerated second dose appointment.

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