Quebec offering third doses to travellers not based in evidence: expert Dee Burman

Fully vaccinated Quebec residents who received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine or mix-and-match doses will have the option to get a third shot of either Pfizer or Moderna.

The Quebec government is offering an extra dose of an mRNA vaccine to people who need to travel internationally and face being barred from entering countries where their vaccination status is not recognized.

“The administration of an additional dose of vaccine remains an exceptional measure for people who have an essential trip planned outside the country, in the short term and that must meet vaccination requirements,” the health department said in a statement.

Toronto-based pharmacologist and founder of Unambiguous Science, Sabina Vohra-Miller, who specializes in science outreach, told 680 NEWS it’s just a matter of time before travel policies are ironed out.

“I think that we just are in a phase where we’re trying to understand what the policies are going to look like, but I don’t foresee any reason why AstraZeneca plus one dose of mRNA would not be considered adequate for travel,” said Vohra-Miller, adding Quebec’s decision is not data-driven.

“In terms of protection, one dose of AstraZeneca followed by one dose of mRNA is extremely efficacious. In fact, there’s data showing that it’s just as efficacious as two doses of mRNA.”

Quebec officials said residents should seek out their own advice, cautioning there is currently no evidence to back up the need for booster shots or assessments of the impact of receiving three doses of two separate vaccines.

Vohra-Miller said some parts of the world won’t be vaccinated until at least 2023 and vaccines should not be given out needlessly.

“What we should be doing with excess doses, if we have any, is distributing it for more vaccine equity,” she said, “so that we can make sure that we’re not in the situation where new variants are created and these vaccines will not work as effectively.”

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