Despite a rush for vaccine booster appointments, some pharmacists say half the people offered the Moderna vaccine have been refusing it.
“Obviously, that’s an empty seat. So the efficiency and speed at which we can provide third doses slows down tremendously,” Dr. Isaac Bogoch with the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto said. “While we’ve certainly lowered barriers to vaccinations. We have a ton of vaccinations in the country. I don’t think we’ve enrolled the support of behavioural change experts and social scientists enough to really help get that number of people who remain unvaccinated vaccinated.”
The Region of Waterloo said in a statement, “There are instances of people choosing to reject Moderna to wait for Pfizer.”
Due to the current vaccine supply, regional vaccination clinics are only offering Moderna to adults aged 30 and older.
“People are walking away from Moderna, but at the Bingeman’s clinic in Kitchener where I’m working, most people accept Moderna as a booster,” Kelly Grindrod, a Researcher and Associate Professor with the University of Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy said in an email.
“Largely due to the risk of, and it’s a very low risk, but it is there, for the inflammation of the heart or myocarditis. So we want to make sure that we follow those guidelines and we are shifting most of the supply in the pharmacy channel over the next two weeks to Moderna,” Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association said.
According to Bates, hesitancy seems to be from the initial Moderna supply issues which resulted in many getting first and second doses of Pfizer.
“This is equal to Pfizer. It’s safe, it’s effective. In fact, in the Omicron, we’re showing data that is demonstrating that Moderna may even in fact have a higher efficacy,” Bates said.
Dr. Bogoch said overwhelming data shows mixing and matching the approved mRNA vaccines is fine.
“In other parts of the world. It’s the opposite. Some people are choosing Moderna over Pfizer. The point is both are ridiculous. These vaccines are excellent at preventing people getting sick, laying in hospital and landing in the ICU or dying. Both of them are fine choices,” Dr. Bogoch said.
“For young people with a strong immune system, Pfizer is a good choice because it is a lower dose and has less risk of myocarditis. However, for people over 30 who are very unlikely to have myocarditis, Moderna gives a slightly stronger boost that may be really helpful with Omicron,” Grindrod said.
According to Bates, when getting a flu shot, most people likely don’t know the brand manufacturer, so he feels choosing an mRNA vaccine shouldn’t be any different.
“We’ve got stuck on these names rather than understanding that an mRNA vaccine equals an mRNA vaccine, whether you’re mixing them or not. That’s the key message,” Bates said.