Pharmacies warn of expiring Moderna doses as pace of vaccination slows
OTTAWA -- There was a steady flow of traffic walking in and out of the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Ottawa City Hall on Sunday, with residents leaving fully vaccinated.
“I got the Pfizer,” said 15-year-old Kira, who is now fully dosed and excited for the school year.
“I got my second dose of Moderna here at city hall,” confirmed Brendan. “It felt good to finally get it.”
Ahead of the weekend, Ottawa Public Health reported that 84 per cent of Ottawa residents 12 and older have at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 71 per cent are fully immunized.
While OPH says community clinics do not have any vaccines at risk of expiration, it's a different story in Ontario pharmacies.
Across the province, vials of Moderna continue to sit unused. Ontario pharmacists are warning that the supply could go to waste if people don't show up and get a jab by the end of the week.
“When you puncture a vial, you only have 12 hours to use the 14 doses,” said Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association. “If someone cancels or doesn’t show up you’re in that short window to use the full 14 doses. A number of not used will have to be disposed because they will reach their overall expiration date.”
The Pharmacists Association says a slowdown in Ontario's vaccine rollout and the public's preference for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have made it harder for pharmacies to use up their Moderna doses
"I heard it's okay to mix but I just don't want to," said Carlos Cuoto, who got his second dose on Sunday. He was intent on getting the same dose as before.
"I plan on travelling and my understanding is not every country recognizes mixing doses. They want to see you have proof you got two doses that were the same, so I got Pfizer," he said.
The Ontario Pharmacists Association says they are advocating for the federal government to have a universal definition for what "fully vaccinated" really means, having full confidence it will eventually be accepted by other countries.
“The evidence continues to show mixing is very effective,” said Bates. “I don't think people should fear long-term being denied access to places because of mixing.”