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Canadians worry for second COVID-19 shot

Last Updated May 6, 2021 at 7:35 pm MDT

CALGARY (CityNews) — As Alberta opens vaccinations for anyone 12 years and older on Monday, May 10, some are questioning the vaccine roll out plan, wondering if it’s better to get the first dose in the arms of as many Canadians as possible, or if it is wiser to prioritize those waiting for months to get their second shot.

“Currently the plan in Alberta and across Canada is to get as many first doses in as we possibly can before giving second doses,” said Dr. Joan Robinson, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at the University of Alberta

“Short supply vaccines that we experienced back in January are gone now,” said Dr. Jim Kellner, a health & wellness researcher at the University of Calgary. “Now we are getting a good, steady and increasing supply of vaccines in the country every week. We are in the midst of moving towards a place where that second dose will come quicker than the outside limit of waiting up to 4 months.”

Doctors say, at least 75 per cent of people do respond to the first dose of the vaccine but how long that immunity lasts is still unknown.

READ MORE: Zero deaths reported in Alberta as 2,211 new cases are identified

Yet some say, waiting between doses of vaccine has shown better results in some cases.

“A study with AstraZeneca shows those who got the second dose twelve weeks after the first dose actually had a better response than those who got the second dose after only four weeks,” said Robinson.

To shorten vaccine intervals, some researchers suggest mixing brands with first and second doses — but is this as effective?

“Work is going on right now to evaluate that starting in Canada, the United Kingdom and other regions,” said Kellner. “Two different vaccines might be better rather than two doses of a single vaccine brand because you might get a broader, more complete immune response. However, we know that amount of immune response and how broad and good that immune response is with the existing vaccine where you get two doses of a single vaccine.”

Experts predict there is a very high chance that the current recommendation of both doses from the same brand will change between now and when most Canadians will be eligible for their second dose.