Know the Ins and Outs of the mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines

You'll hear lots of buzz about the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines...as vaccination efforts expand.

Encourage patients to get either vaccine series when eligible.

For now, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is for patients 16 years and older...and Moderna is for those 18 and up.

Can different vaccines be used for each dose? Only in RARE cases...since using a different brand for each dose hasn't been studied.

Encourage patients to take their vaccination record card with them to their next COVID-19 vaccine appointment, so they receive the same product for their first and second dose.

Is there "wiggle room" on timing of the second dose? A bit.

Pfizer-BioNTech's second dose is recommended 21 days after the first dose...Moderna's is recommended 28 days after the first dose.

If needed, it's okay to give the second dose up to 2 days early for Pfizer-BioNTech and up to 7 days early for Moderna...such as if a patient returns ahead of schedule and might not come back.

And if needed, second doses may be scheduled up to 42 days after the first.

But some provinces are choosing to delay the second dose so more patients can benefit from a first dose. The series shouldn't be restarted, even if the second dose is outside this window.

Can COVID-19 vaccines be given along with other vaccines? Not yet.

There are no data on co-administration, and this keeps the picture cleaner for evaluating any adverse events.

Check immunization records so other vaccines (flu, etc) are generally given at least 14 days BEFORE the first COVID-19 vaccine dose...or at least 28 days AFTER the second COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Continue to help report serious adverse events (anaphylaxis, etc) to Canada Vigilance.

Get our COVID-19 Vaccines chart to learn about dosing, adverse effects, and more.

Key References

  • www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/immunization/national-advisory-committee-on-immunization-naci/recommendations-use-covid-19-vaccines.html (2-2-21)
  • www.immunize.org/askexperts/experts_cov.asp (2-2-21)
  • https://ismp.org/resources/learning-errors-new-covid-19-vaccines (2-2-21)
  • www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety.html (2-2-21)
Pharmacy Technician's Letter Canada. February 2021, No. 370202



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