B.C.’s top doctor confirmed about a dozen British Columbians under the age of 18 have been mistakenly given the Moderna Inc. COVID-19 vaccine since immunization opened up to children 12 and up earlier this month.
Canadian regulators have only approved the use of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine for those ages 12 and older.
“We don’t believe this is an error that will cause any clinical harm to people,” B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday.
“That does not excuse the fact that it should not have happened and that the immunizers certainly need to disclose, which I understand they did, to the parents and to the young people who received the vaccine.”
She said health officials have implemented more processes to make sure the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not mixed up at clinics.
Henry added that she expects the Moderna vaccine to be approved for use for children 12 and up “very soon.”
“The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has looked at the interchangeability of the two mRNA vaccines [Pfizer and Moderna] and supports that there's no safety concerns or effectiveness concerns,” she said.
“As much as we can, we will try to make sure everybody gets the same product for their second dose.”
But Henry reiterated that Pfizer is the only vaccine currently approved for use for Canadians as young as 12.
Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix are expected to reveal details on Thursday about the province’s plans to allow British Columbians to mix and match COVID-19 vaccines in a bid to get their second doses sooner.
Canada is facing far fewer supplies of the AstraZeneca plc vaccine compared with Moderna and Pfizer.
Henry said early data suggests that those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine first may get a better response by receiving one of the mRNA vaccines as a second dose.
Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether any special dispensation will be given to vaccinated Grade 12 students to celebrate their high school graduation.
Henry said discussions are ongoing between public health officials, school superintendents, parents, teach and student groups about the possibility of more elaborate celebrations as the province’s reopening plans unfold.
Provincial officials will be engaging in a consultation process to prepare for larger indoor and outdoor gatherings with safety protocols in anticipation of Stage 3 of its plan.
The earliest date at which Stage 3 is slated to occur is July 1, mere days before high school graduation for many.
“So there are lots of really great, important, innovative ways we can celebrate graduation this years — certainly outside,” Henry said.
To date, 3,070,162 British Columbians — or 66.1% of the population 12 and older — have received at least one vaccine dose.
Another 179,954 have received two doses.
Henry announced last week the province is shrinking the interval between doses significantly, from four months to two months, as a steadier and more abundant supply of vaccines enters B.C.
So far, just under 450,000 booking registrations for second doses have been sent out of British Columbians, according to Dix.
Henry also revealed B.C.’s third reported case of a rare blood clot linked to use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
A man in his 30s in the Island Health region is currently receiving treatment and recovering in hospital.