Vaccine panel considers ways to maximize COVID-19 protection as supply trickles in

Vaccine panel considers ways to maximize COVID-19 protection as supply trickles in
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Canada's panel of vaccine experts is considering how to maximize COVID-19 protection with the current supply of vaccines as Ontario strives to administer the first dose in all of its nursing homes by the middle of next month.

Canada’s panel of vaccine experts is considering how to maximize COVID-19 protection with the current supply of vaccines.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization says briefly delaying the second dose of a vaccine could allow more people to get a first dose sooner, though it stresses efforts should be made to follow the recommended schedules for administering the shots.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said yesterday that Canada has secured enough of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to immunize every Canadian who wants it by fall, but most won’t arrive until spring and summer.

In British Columbia, the provincial health officer has announced that 62,294 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine to date.

This includes individuals in all health authorities, as well as in remote First Nations communities.

Dr. Bonnie Henry has also made the decision to delay the second dose of the vaccine to 35 days later as opposed to the recommended 21-day gap.

She says the decision to delay the second shot is about maximizing the vaccines’ distribution while balancing the supply and making sure the province has a safe and effective immunization program.

Henry says the first dose primes the immune system while the second shot gives it a boost and waiting between jabs allows the body to build up that immunity.

The Ontario government, meanwhile, says it is stepping up immunizations in long-term care homes now that it has protocols in place to safely transport the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has strict storage requirements.

Long-term care has borne the brunt of the pandemic, accounting for more than 3,000 of the province’s more than 5,000 deaths from COVID-19.

The province reported 74 more deaths from the virus today, and 2,961 new infections. It also said more than 11,000 vaccines have been administered since its last daily report.

An order requiring Ontario residents to stay home except for essential activities is set to take effect at midnight, one of several measures the government announced Tuesday as new projections showed its health-care system is on the brink of being overwhelmed.

With files to the Canadian Press.

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