Canadian health officials announced Wednesday that Canada intends on vaccinating most of its adult population before administering a booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
Currently, the second Pfizer and Moderna doses are recommended to be taken three to four weeks after the first dose in the U.S. But Canada is seeking to get as many Canadians vaccinated as possible before offering a second dose.
“While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection,” Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization said.
The idea of waiting to administer the second dose in order to get more people vaccinated is gaining traction in the U.S. among prominent public health experts.
“I think there is emerging data that is supporting this approach,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “While the most compelling data is to stay on the approved schedule, I do think that delayed second doses are some things that need to be seriously consider.”
Dr. Theresa Tam, who is the chief public health officer for Canada, backs the decision.
“Emerging evidence shows that the first dose of the COVID vaccine provides sustained high levels of short-term protection against illness and severe outcomes,” Tam said.
As of Thursday, 2.1 million doses of coronavirus vaccine has been administered in Canada. Canada has a population of 38 million.
Like the U.S., Canada saw a big spike in COVID-19 cases during the holidays. Cases and deaths have dropped in recent weeks. Canada is now averaging fewer than 3,000 cases per day and 43 deaths per day. By comparison, the U.S. is averaging 64,000 new cases a day and 1,800 deaths a day.
Per capita, America’s COVID-19 death rate is five times higher than Canada’s.