The Globe and Mail is reporting that Alberta has stopped administering first doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in favour of other types of immunization.
The newspaper quotes Kristin Klein, the co-lead of the province’s vaccine task force, as saying the province has decided to shift to mRNA vaccines for first doses.
The report says the move is partly due to the greater supply of mRNA shots, such as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna ones, and partly due to concerns over a rare blood clot condition linked to AstraZeneca.
Klein says AstraZeneca shots will still be made available to those who don’t want an mRNA vaccine or can’t receive one for health reasons.
She also says in the report that a decision has not yet been made on what shot will be administered as a second dose to those who were already given a shot of AstraZeneca.
Use of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been under added scrutiny in recent weeks, particularly after Canada’s panel of vaccine experts recommended that people who aren’t at a high risk of COVID-19 may want to wait to get a dose of Pfizer or Moderna.
The chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has since said, however, that those who already received a dose of AstraZeneca shouldn’t feel like they made a poor choice.
Nearly all the 2.3 million doses of AstraZeneca delivered so far have been used. Officials have said another 650,000 doses are expected this month, and an additional million in June, though no precise dates have been given.
Some doctors have questioned continued use of the AstraZeneca shot.
Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious diseases specialist and a member Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table, recently said on Twitter that while the AstraZeneca vaccine served its purpose, its use could be limited now that there is enough supply of the Pfizer and Moderna shots. That would remove the risk of rare but serious blood clots, which have not been linked with Pfizer and Moderna.
Canada has confirmed 12 cases of VITT—vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia—and three deaths.
Ontario, meanwhile, became the latest province to indicate Monday it will likely allow people to mix COVID-19 vaccine brands on the second dose as more Pfizer and Moderna shipments arrive.