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Washington sticking to full two-dose vaccine plan, as others look for ways to stretch supplies

The FDA is meeting this week to consider giving half doses of Moderna's COVID vaccine to people between the ages of 18 and 55, to extend limited supplies.

SEATTLE — The Washington Department of Health said it’s sticking to its original plan of recommending two full doses of coronavirus vaccines, as other officials consider reducing doses or only giving one shot, to stretch limited supplies.

The FDA is meeting this week to consider giving half doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine to people between the ages of 18 and 55.

The doctor leading the federal government's vaccine program Operation Warp Speed said clinical data shows the vaccine, in smaller doses, can be just as effective for younger and middle-aged people.

Using half doses could make the coronavirus vaccine available to twice as many people under the age of 55.

In response to questions about half-dosage, the state Department of Health said experts guiding vaccine distribution "have not recommended a change in dose and we are following their guidance.”

Another way to extend a limited vaccine supply is to delay the second dose so more people can get their first dose.

Currently, millions of second doses are being held back from distribution, but a pair of UW Medicine doctors argue the government should prioritize giving as many people as possible a single dose.

“This is really focused on the short-term horizon of preventing as many deaths from COVID-19, and cases, as we can, but it also has the benefit of having the potential to decrease transmission and decrease the number of new cases,” said Dr. Ruanne Barnabas, a UW Medicine global health and allergy and infectious diseases associate professor.

“There are some risks with not receiving the second dose. One of the risks is that the vaccine effect might not be as durable,” she said.

Washington Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said in an interview with KING 5 on Monday that he did not support the one-dose idea.

“If it looks like that helps us, absolutely, we would go that route. But right now, I don't believe it will, and so we're going to continue to go with the two-dose on both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines,” he said.

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