Ontarians who received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will be able to choose between the same vaccine or an mRNA one like Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna when booking their second-dose appointments starting on Friday.
The province updated its guidance on second doses Thursday for people who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to allow for mixing vaccines.
Both second dose options will be available at the recommended 12-week interval so only those who got the first shot 12 weeks ago will be eligible initially.
Individuals who want the second dose of AstraZeneca can contact the pharmacy or primary care provider where they received their first to book an appointment. If they would like to receive an mRNA vaccine as a second dose they can make an appointment at a pharmacy where Pfizer or Moderna are being offered.
The province said some pharmacies or primary care setting could also be reaching out to eligible residents.
Starting next week, a ‘second dose only’ option will become available through the online provincial booking system for those who want Pfizer or Moderna for the second shot. Eligible residents will also be to book through public health units that use their own booking system.
“Nothing is more important than the health of Ontarians, and for the best protection against COVID-19 it is vital that everyone who received the AstraZeneca vaccine for their first dose receives a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer of health.
“We are providing individuals who have received only their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine with two recommended options based on the available data and evidence and will continue to work with Health Canada to monitor the quality and efficacy of all COVID-19 vaccines being used in Ontario.”
The updated guidance from the province is aligned with the latest recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).
NACI updated its guidance to recommend that the second shot of an mRNA vaccine, Moderna or Pfizer, can be the follow-up to the first dose of AstraZeneca.
NACI also said individuals that received the first dose of Pfizer or Moderna should be offered the same mRNA shot. If supply does not allow for that, the health committee says those who received the first shot of Pfizer could, then, get a second dose of Moderna or vice versa.
Ontario announced last week it was moving forward with accelerating second COVID-19 vaccine doses with possible intervals as short as four weeks.
The accelerated second dose plan aims to have the majority of Ontario residents who choose to get the vaccine be fully vaccinated by the end of summer.
The province hit another milestone on Tuesday with pharmacies administering more than one-million doses of the vaccine.
Select pharmacies in the province have been administering AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer.
Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, said with continued shipments of Moderna and Pfizer, they’re hoping to increase the amounts for pharmacies with high demand.
He also said pharmacies are expecting a new batch of AstraZeneca to arrive for second doses at those original pharmacies that were part of a pilot project.