Expecting fewer Pfizer shots, province recommends getting Moderna for 2nd doses

The province says it’s been told that shipments of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to slow down at the beginning of July, resulting in fewer Pfizer appointments in the weeks ahead.

This means the province is putting a pause on second-dose appointments of the Pfizer vaccine for young people aged 12 to 17. 

The Manitoba government was notified late Wednesday that it will be receiving fewer than half of the shipments of Pfizer vaccine it had been expecting for the first week of July, Johanu Botha, operations leader of Manitoba’s vaccine rollout, said during a news conference Thursday afternoon. 

This does not affect the province’s vaccine rollout plans for June, he said, but may impact appointments made after July 7. 

At this time, no appointments are being cancelled, but it is a possibility, he said.

Botha said the province may get an updated shipment schedule from the federal government for the rest of July as early as Thursday evening, at which point it will know more. 

“We’ll have to wait to see what comes back from from the federal government in terms of the confirmed shipment delivery schedule. Ideally, we’re able to honour all of them, either with Pfizer or with alternate mRNA type,” he said. 

“But we certainly given that we don’t have any extra information, I don’t think we can be building any new ones because that will just be adding to the issue.”

In the unfortunate circumstance where the province does have to cancel appointments because Pfizer supplies have dried up,Botha said, it will inform the relevant clients many days in advance so they can make other plans. 

However, he said he expects the increased doses of the Moderna vaccine the province is expected to receive in the coming weeks will make up for the shortage of Pfizer, and that people could get Moderna for their second shot instead. 

For now, young people ages 12 to 17 will not be able to book their second doses of the Pfizer vaccine until the province sees an updated vaccine shipment schedule for the rest of July, Botha said. 

Pfizer is currently the only COVID-19 vaccine approved for those under 18 in Canada. 

Botha says he doesn’t expect this will create much of a delay in when young people will actually get their second doses anyway, since they would likely have to wait two to three weeks for their appointment. 

The Manitoba government made the announcement via Twitter Thursday afternoon. 

The province says many appointments are available next week for the Moderna vaccine, and will be available in the weeks to come.