Amid a delay in a delivery of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) will only administer Moderna doses at three of its four mass vaccination clinics.
As of Monday, Western Fair Agriplex, the North London Optimist Community Center, and the Caradoc Community Center in Mount Brydges, Ontario will only be administering Moderna doses to eligible adults attending either a first or second dose appointment.
A limited amount of Pfizer doses will be available in each clinic for children ages 12-17 only, as this is the only vaccine approved in Canada for those under the age of 18.
“Regardless of what vaccine you received for your first dose, Moderna is an excellent vaccine for your second dose,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, MLHU’s health officer.
When asked to compare Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Mackie said they were more similar than twins.
“Twins have a different personality … Pfizer and Moderna are the same vaccine, just with a different name.”
Mackie said he didn’t expect this delay from Pfizer, which has usually been constant since vaccines were made available. The region typically receives around 25,000 doses of Pfizer per week.
A spokeswoman for Health Secretary Christine Elliott said the batch of Pfizer doses due to arrive on Monday was two or three days late.
Elliott’s spokesman pointed out that people shouldn’t reschedule appointments to get a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a later date, as the province now has “a large supply of Moderna doses” on hand.
Health officials said it was important for people to take the first available mRNA vaccine for their second dose to stay ahead of the Delta variant, originally discovered in India and also known as B.1.617.2.
Mackie said he expected vaccine supplies to fluctuate over the next few weeks, meaning people will get every mRNA vaccine available.
Earlier this month, federal health officials approved the interchangeability of mRNA vaccines, such as those made by Pfizer and Moderna, saying it was safe to combine second doses.
As the pandemic has progressed, vaccine recommendations have changed, as demonstrated by the recent move by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommending provinces to stop giving the AstraZeneca vaccine as a second dose as well.
“The evidence is surfacing, so there is no doubt that recommendations will change over time. What we make now is the best recommendation we have,” said Mackie.
“I think it’s important to remember the miracle that each and every one of these vaccines is,” he said. “In 1919, when you had a severe pandemic flu, it took 30 or 40 years for a vaccine to become available and even more for it to become more widely available.”