HALIFAX -- New federal recommendations to increase the interval between COVID-19 vaccine doses should permit many Maritimers to get at least one shot by the end of June.

The advice from Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) says a second COVID-19 vaccine dose can be given up to four months after the first, if Canada wanted to maximize the number of people being immunized. Initially, an interval of 21 to 28 days between shots was being recommended.

“This recommendation is based on clinical trial reports and emerging real world evidence from around the world,” said Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, on Thursday.

Nova Scotia had been holding back half of its vaccine supply as a reserve for second doses. The policy is now changing according to Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin.

“As we move forward we will not have to hold that (quantity) back," said Rankin on Thursday, following his first cabinet meeting as premier. "If you do the math, that means that the doses that we have been promised, our allocation, means all that Nova Scotians would be able to get their first dose by the end of June."

Nova Scotia's stated goal is to immunize 70 per cent of its population by September. Rankin said there will likely be more details about the province's plan at Friday's COVID-19 briefing.

Prince Edward Island's Department of Health said Thursday it was also planning to extend the timeframe between first and second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

"As P.E.I. expects to receive approximately 100,000 doses of vaccine in P.E.I. between March and July, every Islander over the age of 16 will be offered a single dose of the vaccine by the end of June," said P.E.I.’s Department of Health in a written statement.

During a news conference Wednesday, Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, said the province is scheduled to receive its first shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccines "within the next week."

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said NACI’s recommendation could allow more people to be vaccinated, although New Brunswick's Department of Health didn’t provide any official update Thursday to its current vaccine rollout plan.

Nova Scotia is expected to receive13,000 doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine next week, which would be added to its supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

The AstraZeneca shipment must be used by April 2 in Nova Scotia and is to be administered to residents across the province aged 50 to 64 years starting March 15. The vaccine will be given out at 26 locations on a first-come, first-served basis.


A new poll released on Thursday by Narrative Research shows that people in Atlantic Canada have a moderate level of confidence that government will distribute COVID-19 vaccines effectively to those who need it most. 

"So, compared to the national average of 65 per cent having trust, in Atlantic Canada across the four province's, there's a 70 per cent level of trust," said Margaret Chapman, the COO and partner of Narrative Research.

Chapman said Atlantic Canadians were also more likely support the idea of sending vaccines from its jurisdiction to other provinces and territories if there was an urgent or critical need. Seventy-nine per cent of Canadians supported the idea, with 82 per cent support amongst Atlantic Canadians.