Alberta reduces COVID-19 vaccine dosage interval for vulnerable patients

Apr 23 2021, 10:26 am

Alberta is shortening the length of time between COVID-19 vaccine doses from 16 weeks to 21 or 28 days for those who are profoundly immunocompromised.

During a Thursday afternoon press conference, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, announced that the province is making a slight change in how second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are approached for select populations who may not respond effectively to their first dose.

Effective Friday, April 23, the province is reducing the interval between vaccine dosages for individuals who are undergoing specific kinds of cancer treatments or who are on other medications that result in a level of profound immune compromise.

The doctor went on to say that this also applies to those who are being treated with an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody.

These individuals are now able to schedule their second COVID-19 vaccination 21 to 28 days after the first dose, instead of the 16 weeks that is currently the standard interval between dosages.

“This aligns with Ontario’s approach,” said Dr. Hinshaw, “and is specifically limited to Albertans who have received solid organ or stem cell transplants, or who are currently undergoing specific immune compromising treatments such as chemotherapy.”

“To be clear, this timeline applies to these individuals only, due to their extremely weakened immune system.”

All other Albertans who qualify for the vaccine, including anyone receiving solely hormonal therapy, radiation therapy, surgical intervention for cancer, or other therapies that are not as immune compromising, will continue to receive their second dose no more than four months after the first.

As more vaccine becomes available, the province will work to shorten the time between doses for all Albertans.

Individuals who meet the profoundly immunocompromised criteria as outlined on the Alberta government’s website can now book their second doses by calling 811. Second dose appointments for this group cannot be made through pharmacies or the AHS online booking tool.

Dr. Hinshaw reminded Albertans that evidence indicates that the first dose of all currently approved vaccines appears to be at least 80% effective in preventing against severe outcomes.

“Offering a first dose to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, benefits everyone.”

Elle McLeanElle McLean

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