Alberta says Pfizer, Moderna vaccines 'interchangeable' amid shipment delay


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The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are “interchangeable” and Albertans should book the earliest appointment for whichever is available, provincial officials say amid a shipment delay.

Alberta is set to receive about 280,000 doses of Pfizer this week, but Canada’s scheduled shipment of 2.4 million doses isn’t expected to arrive until mid-week.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) says those who book for Moderna will be able to get an appointment sooner.

“Both Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines and work in the same way. They are now considered to be interchangeable,” the health authority tweeted on Sunday.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, echoed that Monday in a series of tweets, saying the formulas are “not identical but extremely similar and it’s perfectly okay to get one dose of each.”

She encouraged Albertans to book the first available vaccine appointment for either first or second doses.

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Tom McMillan, a spokesman for Alberta Health, said in a statement the province is expecting 266,000 fewer Pfizer doses than originally planned over the next few weeks, but he noted the province received an increase of 434,400 Moderna doses last week.

McMillan said Alberta is anticipating an increase in the number of mRNA vaccine doses it will receive in July.

“We’re receiving enough vaccines in the coming weeks for all Albertans to book their first or second doses as soon as possible,” he said.

On Friday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said Pfizer and Moderna can be used interchangeably for second doses. However, children aged 12 to 17 remain only eligible to get Pfizer in Canada.

Also on Friday, Alberta opened up booking for second doses to those who got their first shot in May and said Albertans who got a first jab in June can book their second once 28 days have passed.

More than 250,000 Albertans had booked a second dose less than 48 hours after the Friday announcement.

As of end-of-day Saturday, 70.6 per cent of Albertans 12 and older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 28.6 per cent were fully vaccinated.

Albertans can book a first or second dose online through the AHS booking portal, by calling Health Link 811, or contacting participating pharmacies.

Nearly all public health restrictions in Alberta will lift as of July 1, two weeks after the province hit its first-dose vaccination threshold of 70 per cent.

With files from the Canadian Press