Don’t delay second dose of COVID-19 vaccine for older people, researchers insist

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Don't delay second dose of COVID-19 vaccine for older people, researchers insist


The study is one of the first in the country to assess the immune response to COVID-19 vaccines in the elderly, according to the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.

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A new study recommends that the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should not be delayed for the elderly, after finding that they may have a weaker immune response to the first vaccine than young adults.

The results once again raise questions about when the second dose of vaccine should be given, an issue debated in Quebec, with the province delaying the second dose for longer than initially recommended.

In an interview Thursday, the executive director of the Canadian COVID-19 Immunity Working Group said the study further reinforced the need to look at how the dose delay played out in real time.

“We need to monitor the effectiveness of this first-dose strategy very closely among residents of long-term care facilities to ensure, with the extended dose, that we are not putting them at increased risk,” said the Dr Tim Evans.

The study was funded by the task force and published online Wednesday as a preprinted article, meaning it has yet to be peer reviewed.

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After analyzing samples from 12 long-term care residents and 18 healthcare workers in Vancouver, the researchers concluded that the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine produced a weaker antibody response in older residents than in older residents. workers.

The median age of participating residents was 82 years, compared to 36 years for health workers.

“Extending the interval between doses of COVID-19 vaccine may pose a risk to the elderly due to the lower immunogenicity of the vaccine in this group,” the study said. “We recommend that the second doses not be delayed in the elderly.”

He concluded that postponing the second dose for older people living in the community could be particularly risky, given that “their primary contacts will remain largely unvaccinated for some time.”

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Evans said the study is important because it is one of the first in the country to assess the immune response to COVID-19 vaccines in the elderly.

And while this raises questions about the risk of postponing the second dose, he noted that infections causing serious illness after the first dose remained “extremely rare”.

“We have not seen any evidence so far that older people succumb to disease or death due to the dosing interval,” Evans said. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to look at him like a hawk. ”

In Quebec, the provincial government initially decided to postpone the second dose for up to 90 days before extending the interval to four months later. At the time, the decision went against the recommendations of the federal government and vaccine manufacturers.

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In early March, however, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that provinces extend the interval between doses to four months in order to quickly inoculate more people.

At a press conference Thursday, Dr. Supriya Sharma, Chief Medical Advisor at Health Canada, was asked about the debate over postponing second doses for the elderly.

Sharma said Health Canada had not changed its recommendations, which are in line with those of policymakers, but noted the advisory committee was looking into the matter.

“Some studies have shown that there may be a bit more decline in immunity and protection after a certain point in time in certain groups, such as the elderly or those with weakened immune systems,” he said. Sharma said.

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“NACI is reviewing this data,” she added. “I think it makes sense that we could have a more nuanced recommendation around this delayed second dose, but those conversations are ongoing.”

Last month, the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ) said the two vaccines available in Quebec at the time were around 80% effective in preventing illness after the first dose.

The Quebec government has repeatedly upheld its decision to delay the second dose, saying it preferred to give the first dose to as many people as possible.

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