‘My real worry’: Pregnant Ont. doctor stuck in second COVID-19 vaccine dose limbo

TORONTO — As delays continue with Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, many of those who received primary doses are now left in a limbo state while awaiting the necessary second dose.

Dr. Ullanda Niel, who is pregnant and works as family doctor in Toronto, received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Jan. 24, and was due to receive her second dose on Feb. 14.

She received notice from the Ontario government that her second dose has been delayed, and has not been given a new expected inoculation date.

“I realize that that primary studies show that the vaccine could be delivered between three to six weeks, but Pfizer recommends the three week dosage date so it makes me a little bit worried,” Niel said on CTV’s Your Morning Friday. “Especially since we don’t know when the shipments are going to come and how many doses we will receive.”

Both Pfizer and Moderna have announced significant disruptions to their supply chains in the past few weeks, throwing Canada’s vaccination goals into doubt.

Six provinces have announced that they will stretch the time frame between Pfizer doses in an effort to combat supply chain disruptions.

Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick have stretched the time frame up to 42 days, and Quebec up to 90 days.

However, questions have arisen over the risk of those decisions.

Pfizer gave a statement to CTV’s Your Morning that warned the “safety and efficacy of the vaccine has not been evaluated on different dosing schedules, as the majority of trial participants received the second dose within the window specified in the study design.”

With uncertainty over her second dose date hanging over her head, Niel said she now just wants to know that she’s going to even receive a second dose, “even within a wider time interval.”

“I would love to get my vaccine the way that it was designed and approved, but…what can you do? We don’t have the vaccine here,” she said.

But the vaccine uncertainty didn’t change Niel’s mind on whether she made the right decision to be vaccinated while pregnant, weighing official advice from obstetricians and gynecologists before deciding on a course of action for herself

“Pregnant women should weigh the risk of contracting COVID-19 with the risk of trying a vaccine that hasn’t been tested on pregnant women,” Niel explained. “I decided that my [COVID-19] risk was enough that I wanted to take the vaccine, as we know that having COVID-19 during pregnancy can have worse complications.”

Niel said the worst case scenario for her would be not receiving a second dose, and instead having to “start from scratch.”

“I think that’s what my real worry is,” she said.

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