Reader question: I was looking at booking my booster Covid dose and it appears that at my local vaccination centre, only doses of Moderna are available. Is there a reason for this?
In a number of regions in France, notably Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Brittany and Centre-Val de Loire, local authorities have made the choice to temporarily use Moderna primarily in vaccination centres, and Pfizer in pharmacies and GP practices.
This is not necessarily due to a shortage of Pfizer but rather to do with certain practicalities.
One is the disproportionate amount of Moderna doses currently in France. There are around five million doses of Pfizer available, and around 20 million doses of Moderna, figures from France’s health ministry show. The ministry has said that it therefore needs to use up the Moderna doses, BFMTV reports.
Another reason is that France’s health service quality regulator the Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) recommends only half-doses of Moderna be given to patients, due to concerns about it very rarely causing mild heart inflammation conditions.
One vial of Moderna’s Covid vaccine contains 10 doses, which when halved equals 20 doses. Vials of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine contain five doses, and full doses can be given to patients. This means that for GPs, nurses and pharmacies it is more practical to order Pfizer doses as it is easier to find five patients than 20 patients - once a vial is opened all doses must be used or discarded.
Finally, Pfizer’s vaccine is more in demand among doctors and pharmacists as it can be used on patients of all ages, whereas Moderna’s vaccine is only recommended for patients aged 30 and over.
You can read more about that in our article here: French health authority advises against Moderna jab for under-30s
For these reasons, it means that there is a good chance of being offered doses of Moderna at vaccination centres, at least for now.
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