Moderna will be the vaccine of choice for Ontarians in Toronto and Peel Region this week due to a decrease in the supply of Pfizer vaccines.
Toronto officials say they were informed Saturday that some 162,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine would be delayed this week. In order to continue with appointments already booked at City-run clinics over the next few weeks, Toronto Public Health says it will increase the administration of Moderna vaccines.
The city says the limited supply of Pfizer doses will be used to vaccinate anyone under the age of 18 as it is the only vaccine approved for use in Canada for anyone in that age bracket.
Public health officials stress that both Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines and according to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) there is “no important difference” between the two.
“With the Delta variant growing at an exponential rate in Toronto, vaccines are one of our key strategies to slow transmission,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health. “Both Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are interchangeable, equally effective and safe for everyone over 18 years. If you have an appointment, keep it. If you don’t have an appointment for a first or second dose, make one as soon as you are eligible.”
Peel Public Health says the Moderna vaccine will be administered in its clinics at least until June 24, saving its supply of Pfizer doses for those between the ages of 12 to 17.
“This Pfizer shipment delay provides us an opportunity to remind our community of the clear science around interchangeability,” said Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s Medical Officer of Health. “I urge all residents to access two-dose protection in any approved combination as quickly as possible to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community.”
Pfizer, which has been the only steady and reliable vaccine maker for Canada so far and hasn’t missed a planned shipment since February, said last week it was going to have cut back on Canada’s shipments in early July.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Pfizer is still shipping the promised 9.1 million doses in July, but they will mostly come in the second half of the month.