Public health pauses first-dose COVID-19 vaccinations due to delivery delays

Officials say everyone will receive second dose in time - starting next week with LTC, retirement home residents

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Public health has paused all first-dose COVID-19 vaccinations due to delivery delays, but officials say everyone who’s received a first dose will receive their second shot within the 42-day window.

Health experts have suggested delaying a second dose longer than six weeks after the first could reduce the efficacy of the vaccine.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) spokesperson Danny Williamson confirmed on Jan. 29 that the first people in line to receive their second dose are residents of long-term care and retirement homes.

“All scheduled COVID-19 vaccinations – except those in long-term care and retirement homes – have been cancelled due to the delay in shipments recently announced by both Moderna and Pfizer,” Williamson confirmed on Jan. 31.

All residents of those facilities in the WDGPH region – some 3,055 people – received their first-dose vaccine by Jan. 27, the goal set by public health.

To date 6,553 first-dose vaccines in total have been administered by public health.

“The rest of the doses went to frontline healthcare workers,” stated Williamson, noting the majority of were workers at long-term care and retirement homes.

He told the Advertiser public health’s “few” remaining Moderna doses are earmarked for those yet unable to be vaccinated in those homes, as well as any new arrivals to the facilities.

Williamson confirmed long-term care and retirement home residents “will receive their second dose within the recommended 21 or 28 days” – starting on Feb. 4.

Public health has stated it has the capacity to administer 500 shots per day, but has fallen far short of that mark due to delivery delays of the Pfizer vaccine.

And on Jan. 29, Massachusetts-based Moderna announced its February shipments to Canada would be about 20 to 25% smaller than anticipated.

“We have adjusted our plan to be able to meet the 42-day deadline for second doses,” Williamson stated when asked about delays in the delivery of vaccines.

He noted WDGPH is “hoping” to next week receive about 975 Pfizer doses and 3,700 Moderna doses.

After second doses for long-term care and retirement home residents, public health is prioritizing second dose vaccinations for everyone else who’s received their first dose.

“For those that received Pfizer, second doses will be administered approximately 35 days after the first dose,” he said.

For Moderna recipients, that number will be about 28 days, he added.

Those appointments will start on Feb. 10, Williamson said.