WINDSOR, ONT. -- Officials with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit say when it comes to getting your second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, it is best for residents to take the first vaccine that is made available to them, even if that means mixing doses.

“Vaccine interchangeability is not a new concept. It happens all the time,” said medical officer of health, Dr. Wajid Ahmed Monday. “They are both basically the same vaccine.”

Ahmed is referring the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, both classified as mRNA vaccines.

He says the majority of people across Windsor-Essex have received Pfizer to date. But with Ontario set to receive 2 million doses of Moderna by the end of June mixing the two doses is the best option.

“We will be in a position to offer early or shortened interval for the mRNA vaccine,” he adds.

Ahmed also referenced the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) who also strongly recommended getting the first available vaccine. “There are no concerns about this interchangeably,” he quoted.

As for residents in Windsor-Essex who received AstraZeneca as their first dose, they will be able to book an accelerated second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday.

This applies to those who received a first jab at least eight weeks ago.

The Ontario government had previously set a minimum wait time of 12 weeks for people who took a first dose of AstraZeneca.

They can choose whether to get a second dose of AstraZeneca, or switch to an mRNA vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna.

There are currently 49,000 doses of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneza available in Windsor-Essex available to residents this week.

“It is important that we get that immunity,” says Admed.