Quebec Is Delaying The 2nd Dose Of The COVID-19 Vaccine & Waiting Longer Than Recommended

Quebec officials say the province will delay administering the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to Quebecers who have already received the first dose.

Public Health Minister Christian Dubé announced in a press conference on Thursday that Quebec will wait 42 to 90 days between doses rather than the recommended 21 to 28 days. 

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Those who do not respect the rules harm all of Quebec because the decisions we make individually have a collective impact.

Christian Dubé

This news comes on the heels of a group from Maimonides Geriatric Centre reportedly threatening legal action against the government if it did not provide the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to residents in a timely fashion. 

"In our context, this is the best strategy, because we have to deal with [having] very few vaccines [available]," Dubé said.

"The more doses that we have, the more we will be able to reduce the time between the first and second [doses]."

According to Dr. Richard Massé, strategic medical advisor to Quebec public health, delaying the second dose by several weeks means an additional 500,000 vulnerable people or more — many over the age of 80 — can receive their first vaccine doses sooner.

Massé described the delay as a choice in terms of how to use the remaining doses. Not vaccinating vulnerable Quebecers with a first dose could lead to an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Providing a second dose would further immunize a smaller portion of the population.

However, Massé said the first dose alone offers 90% protection against the novel coronavirus.

He also said that if there is any indication that certain Quebecers have decreased immunity after receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the province would administer the second dose "immediately."

"As long as we have good protection for the population for 90 days, we will vaccinate as many people [as possible] that are very vulnerable to disease and hospitalization," he said.

Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine is designed to be two doses, 21 days apart. The Moderna vaccine is meant to be two doses, 28 days apart. This information is relayed on the Health Canada website.

However, Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization recently advised that in certain situations, like the situation in Quebec, jurisdictions "may maximize the number of individuals benefiting from a first dose of vaccine by delaying the second dose... preferably within 42 days of receipt of the first dose."

As of January 14, Quebec had received 162,175 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and had vaccinated 115,704 Quebecers.

According to Dubé, more than half of Quebec's CHSLD residents have received a first dose of the vaccine.