Two to three per cent of people are walking away from appointments at city clinics over brand of vaccine
A worker sets up signs for a mass vaccination clinic in Toronto on Wednesday, March 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Published Monday, January 10, 2022 5:08PM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 10, 2022 5:32PM EST
Toronto’s top doctor is once again urging residents to “take the first vaccine available” to them amid data suggesting that some people are refusing to roll up their sleeves after showing up at city-run clinics and being offered an injection of Moderna.
Toronto began administering the Moderna vaccine to all adults 18 and up last week as it seeks to preserve its limited supply of the Pfizer vaccine for use in younger individuals.
But at a briefing on Monday Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa expressed exasperation with data suggesting that two to three per cent of all people with appointments at city-run clinics are now walking away being offered Moderna and “choosing to wait for Pfizer instead.”
She said that the city’s experience is consistent with anecdotal reports from pharmacies and community clinics, which are also seeing a not insignificant number of people turn down the Moderna vaccine.
“I encourage you not to wait for your booster or third dose of COVID-19 vaccine but to take the first vaccine available to you,” de Villa said. “The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to be as effective and in some studies more effective at protecting individuals against hospitalization, ICU admission and death than the vaccine from Pfizer.”
Ontario currently recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 24 receive the Pfizer vaccine due to an elevated risk of a rare heart condition called myocarditis that has been noted in younger individuals who previously received Moderna.
However, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore has stressed that individuals have a higher risk of ending up in hospital with heart inflammation caused by COVID-19 than they do of developing a vaccine-induced case of myocarditis, which remains an extremely rare side effect.
Speaking with reporters on Monday, de Villa said that it is important that residents “don’t hesitate based on the brand being offered,” especially in light of data pointing to older residents being less protected by two doses of vaccine.
“The immune system is less robust in older individuals, likely leading to more advanced loss of protection from two doses of vaccine. This means that if you are over the age of 60 you have a higher likelihood of serious complications from COVID 19 infection and you need your third dose of vaccine as soon as possible,” she said.
So far a number of other public health units have in addition to Toronto have also begun to prioritize their supply of the Pfizer vaccine for younger populations.
In York Region officials announced on Monday that they will provide Moderna to all individuals 30 and up and will only provide Pfizer for individuals ages 18 to 29 at “select clinics.”
The Ontario government has said that it has requested four million additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the federal government in January, though a delivery schedule has not been publicly released.