B.C. says AstraZeneca vaccine will remain part of immunization program
VANCOUVER -- The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will remain part of B.C.’s immunization program, even as Ontario stops offering it for first doses due to concerns around blood clots.
In B.C., AstraZeneca has made up 10 per cent of COVID-19 vaccine supply to date. It was relied on heavily in March and April when the province’s vaccine supply was low and case rates were especially high.
Dr. Brian Conway, medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre says it’s too early to say whether B.C. should follow Ontario’s lead and stop using AstraZeneca for first doses, but B.C. needs to do its homework.
“I think it’s important to analyze the information in the same way it occurred in Ontario to see if the very same conclusions pertain here in British Columbia,” he says. “I’m very hopeful that discussion is occurring today.”
Health officials in Ontario say the risk of vaccine-induced blood clots associated with the vaccine in Ontario has increased from one in 100,000 to one in 60,000.
“This decision was made out of an abundance of caution due to an observed increase in blood clot risk,” says Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical health officer.
Out of nearly two-million Canadians who’ve received an AstraZeneca vaccination, three have died from blood clots. In B.C., Approximately 269,000 doses have been administered, and one case of blood clots has been reported. The woman, in her 40's, is now recovering.
Alberta and Saskatchewan have also pressed pause on AstraZeneca, blaming a lack of supply. The two provinces will rely on the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines instead, which Canada is expected to receive in large quantities in the coming weeks.
For now, B.C.’s health ministry says AstraZeneca remains part of the program.
“Since we are not expecting any additional AstraZeneca supply in the short term, we will continue our vaccination effort primarily with Pfizer and Moderna,” the ministry tells CTV News in a statement.
“We do expect to receive additional AstraZeneca to ensure everyone (who received a first dose of that vaccine) can receive their second dose.”
However, Conway says when it comes to using AstraZeneca for second doses, information is missing.
“The key piece of info to acquire right now is whether it’s safe to get a second dose of AstraZeneca if the first dose was given and no side effect occurred.”
Conway commends everyone who has already received an AstraZeneca shot, for taking the first vaccine available and doing their part to eventually bring the pandemic to an end.