Explainer: B.C.’s timeline for the second COVID-19 vaccine dose

The province is looking at shortening the 13-week waiting time between doses to 8 weeks

(Unsplash/ CDC)

B.C. is in the process of giving out first doses of vaccines as part of phase four of the province’s rollout plan, where high-risk individuals were prioritized in phases one and two, and then the general population in phases three and four.

As of May 27, Canada has given out about 22,254,220 vaccines, and over 2.8 million people in B.C. have received their first dose. British Columbians can now expect an 8-week waiting period before their second dose.

The original decision to extend wait times between each dose to 16 weeks was meant to vaccinate and protect as many people as possible. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization released a report that recommended provinces with limited vaccine supply or rising cases to implement the four-month interval between doses.

The report also states that once people in the province are eligible for their second dose, they should get it as soon as possible.

Epidemiology studies have shown that delaying the wait time between doses can help with the recipient’s immune response. The antibodies of those who waited 12 weeks before their second dose were 3.5 times more than those who waited three weeks.

The test was done on people over 80, and the vaccine used was the Pfizer-BioNTech.

The UK is also delaying the time between doses, and experts say lengthening the time between the first and second dose “yields a stronger immune response.”

The choice of extending the waiting period depends on each country and what its COVID-19 cases are like. In the case of the UK, Dr. Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds, said that the combination of their lockdown measures and the vaccinations have helped the country.

Canada is expected to get 37 million doses of the vaccine in May and June, which could help the country with administering the second dose faster.

Manitoba has already started giving its high-risk residents their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

As of May 27, only 156,730 British Columbians received their second shots.

The next step in the province’s vaccination plan is to start vaccinating youth between 12 and 17 in community clinics, with over 300,000 youth being able to get the vaccine. Youth between those ages can now register for their first dose.

The province also ended some of its restrictions following the Victoria Day weekend on May 25 to reopen businesses, allow small social gatherings, and return to normal as early as September.