Quebec offers extra dose to travellers whose vaccination status isn’t recognized

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The Quebec government is offering an extra dose of mRNA vaccine to people who want to travel to countries that don’t recognize their vaccination status.

The Health Department says it is making a third dose available because some countries don’t recognize people as being fully vaccinated if they have received a mix of COVID-19 vaccines. But officials warned Monday it’s up to the recipient to seek advice and weigh the risks before getting a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

A spokesman for the Health Department said in an email Monday a third dose doesn’t necessarily provide more protection compared with two doses.

Robert Maranda says there are no studies that assess the impact of receiving three doses of two separate vaccines. “The person should be properly counselled to be informed of the potential risks associated with this added dose compared to the benefits of the planned trip,” he wrote.

“It is up to everyone to weigh the balance of risks and benefits.”

Quebec reported 75 new cases of COVID-19 Monday along with 223 new infections from Friday and Saturday. The province has 814 active reported cases. Health officials reported one death attributed to the novel coronavirus since Friday’s report, and they said the number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 was 67 — stable since Friday.

WATCH | What we know about mixing COVID-19 vaccines:

Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch explains comments from the World Health Organization about COVID-19 vaccines taken out of context and what health experts know about mixing vaccines. 2:25

Meanwhile, Premier Francois Legault announced on Monday his government is relaxing more rules for bars, nightclubs, festivals and entertainment venues.

Legault said on Twitter that beginning Sunday, bars and nightclubs can serve alcohol for an extra hour, until 1 a.m., and they must close by 2 a.m. Festivals will be able to host a maximum of 15,000 people outside — up from 5,000. Indoor venues will be permitted to welcome a maximum of 7,500 people seated indoors, up from 3,500. Dancing, however, remains prohibited.

Quebec’s public health institute says 83.5 per cent of residents aged 12 and up have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 62.5 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated.

No evidence of need for third dose, NACI says 

Currently in Canada, the guiding recommendations from the country’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) state that there is “currently no evidence on the need for booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine after the vaccine series is complete.”

NACI does, however, recommend swapping in different vaccines for different doses in certain situations. 

The advisory body calls for the same mRNA vaccines to be used for a second dose if possible, but that another mRNA shot “can be considered interchangable” if the first type is unavailable.

NACI also recommends that either an AstraZeneca or COVISHIELD vaccine, or an mRNA one, can be offered as a second dose for people who had a first shot of AstraZeneca or COVISHIELD. It notes that mRNA options are actually preferred as a second dose, thanks to emerging safety evidence and the possibility of a better immune response.

Currently, the vaccines approved for use in Canada include both versions of the AstraZeneca shot, and those made by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.



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