Single-dose mRNA vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare workers extending 16 weeks post-vaccination: a test-negative design from Quebec, Canada

Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Aug 30;ciab739. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciab739. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: In Canada, first and second doses of mRNA vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 were uniquely spaced 16 weeks apart, but the duration of single-dose protection remains uncertain. We estimated one- and two-dose mRNA vaccine effectiveness (VE) among healthcare workers (HCWs) in Quebec, Canada including protection against varying outcome severity, variants of concern (VOC), and the stability of single-dose protection out to 16 weeks post-vaccination.

Methods: A test-negative design compared vaccination among SARS-CoV-2 test-positive and weekly-matched (10:1), randomly-sampled, test-negative HCWs using linked surveillance and immunization databases. Vaccine status was defined by one dose ≥14 days or two doses ≥7 days before illness onset or specimen collection. Adjusted VE was estimated by conditional logistic regression.

Results: Primary analysis included 5,316 cases and 53,160 controls. Single-dose VE was 70% (95%CI: 68-73) against SARS-CoV-2 infection, 73% (95%CI: 71-75) against COVID-19 illness and 97% (95%CI: 92-99) against associated hospitalization. Two-dose VE was 86% (95%CI: 81-90) and 93% (95%CI: 89-95), respectively, with no associated hospitalizations. VE was higher for non-VOC than VOC (73% Alpha) among single-dose (77%, 95%CI: 73-81 versus 63%, 95%CI: 57-67) but not two-dose recipients (87%, 95%CI: 57-96 versus 94%, 95%CI: 89-96). Across 16 weeks, no decline in single-dose VE was observed with appropriate stratification based upon prioritized vaccination determined by higher versus lower likelihood of direct patient contact.

Conclusion: One mRNA vaccine dose provided substantial and sustained protection to HCWs extending at least four months post-vaccination. In circumstances of vaccine shortage, delaying the second dose may be a pertinent public health strategy to consider.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; healthcare workers; test-negative design; vaccine effectiveness.