Second vaccine doses exceed first doses as shipments ramp up

Second doses have been delayed for weeks amid ongoing vaccine shortages

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The number of second COVID-19 vaccine doses administered to British Columbians over the past day exceeded those who got their initial dose as immunizers got a chance to play catch-up following weeks of shipping delays. 

To date, 239,833 vaccine doses have been administered in B.C., of which 68,157 are second doses, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry revealed Thursday (February 25).

That’s up from the 230,875 doses administered 24 hours earlier, of which 62,608 were second doses.

The majority of all doses administered the past day were second doses: 5,549 vs. 3,409.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) deliveries were delayed for much of January and February as it revamped its manufacturing facility in Belgium to boost production capacity.

This came at the same time Moderna Inc. (NYSE:MRNA) began throttling deliveries, leaving provinces like B.C. to delay the intervals between the vaccines’ first and second doses.

Both vaccine manufacturers recommend intervals of about three to four weeks between doses.

B.C. initially stretched that interval to 35 days in January and then to 42 days shortly afterward amid ongoing delays.

But some may have to wait even longer for their second dose as a result of those delays.

Henry cautioned last week 4,000-6,000 British Columbians are likely to receive their second Moderna doses after 42 days.

The province will soon wind up the first two phases of its vaccination plan ahead of mass immunizations for the general population set to begin in April.

The initial phases are focused on the most vulnerable populations, health-care workers most at risk, elderly British Columbians above the age of 80 and indigenous seniors over the age of 65.

But the vaccination campaign has faced issues amid the vaccine shortage.

“We have not been idle these last few weeks when we’ve had limited doses of vaccine,” Henry said.

“We have been putting together the building blocks to make sure that we can be as efficient as possible and minimize the inevitable bumps and hurdles that we are going to see along the way.”

Pfizer deliveries have ramped up this week, with 475,020 doses arriving in Canada.

Moderna is set boost deliveries beginning the week of March 8, with 466,000 doses.

torton@biv.com

@reporton