Some Quebec seniors who received Moderna for first dose could get Pfizer for second

Some Quebec seniors who received a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine could soon get approval to receive the Pfizer shot for their second dose.

The change comes as infections in CHSLDs and private senior homes have been rising in recent weeks, with 200 active cases as of Tuesday.

CIUSSS Centre-Sud head physician Sophie Zhang said that due to vaccines being less effective in the elderly, administering a second dose as soon as possible has become an urgent need.

“We've been wanting our nursing home patients to get their second dose quicker because of the decreased efficacy,” she said. “If we knew it was 90 per cent effective among the residents, we probably wouldn't be so worried about the second dose. But because it's a lot lower, a lot of us have been asking for them to get the second dose quicker. Now, we're reaching that three month, four month delay and we need to give it to them.”

Zhang oversees 15 nursing homes on the Island of Montreal and said that even though over 90 per cent of residents have received their first shot, the same can't be said for staff.

“For the staff, it can be much lower. It has increased; at first it was really worrisome because it was about 30 per cent coverage and that's very low,” she said. “But now, it has almost doubled in our establishments. That still remains not enough to completely protect the residents.”

Recently, Quebec has seen delays in shipments of the Moderna vaccine, causing some residents who had appointments booked for their second doses to have those cancelled and no new dates scheduled.

Health Minister Christian Dube said that residents will get their second doses, even if it's a different vaccine.

“Our issue right now is the late arrival of some Moderna, we might need to do a switch,” he said. “But there are two MRNA vaccines. We're just waiting for public health to give us the okay. I think that will be alright.”