Ontario to administer second doses of AstraZeneca
Note that the pause on the first dose of AZ announced on May 11 remains in effect.
A number of key considerations:
It is very important that individuals get a second dose. All vaccines approved by Health Canada remain highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, and, for two-dose vaccines, a second dose provides further protection.
The current known risk of VITT following second AZ dose based on U.K. data is one in 600,000. Evidence continues to evolve on VITT cases and this will be monitored and updated as adverse events are reported in public health systems.
There are options for patients to receive their second dose of AZ:
Individuals vaccinated in primary care between March 10 and 19 in one of the initial six public health regions vaccinating with AZ (Toronto, Peel, Hamilton, Peterborough, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, and Simcoe-Muskoka) may choose to either receive a second dose of AZ starting the week of May 24 until May 31 at a 10-week interval between doses or wait until the 12-week interval. For the primary care sites involved, you will be hearing directly from your local Public Health Unit.
Patients vaccinated at a pharmacy with AZ in that time period of March 10-19 in select regions (Toronto, Windsor and Kingston) should reach out to that pharmacy to book a second dose at either a 10- or 12-week interval.
Patients can also choose to wait for an mRNA vaccine when more is known from ongoing studies about the safety and efficacy of mixing vaccines. This would be scheduled at a 16-week interval between doses.
Following the direction of the province (May 11), Ontario is immediately pausing administration of the first dose of the AZ vaccine. For those who received their first dose of the AZ vaccine, we understand that there are many questions. Here is what we know now and are working to confirm for you.
Why was this change made now? There are several reasons for this change:
• The rates of rare blood clots with this vaccine are rising – the province quoted a 1:60,000 chance.
• We are starting to see falling rates of COVID-19 infection in the province.
• There are increasing supplies of other vaccines coming into Ontario.
Should I have waited for a different vaccine?
If you have already been vaccinated, you did the right thing by protecting yourself and others around you. Having a first dose provides significant protection against serious illness and death should you become infected with COVID-19. If you received the AZ vaccine within the past 28 days, the chances of serious side effects remain very small – but you should know the signs, as these rare blood clots can be treated if addressed early. Please reach out to our office or seek emergency care if you have the warning symptoms.
What about the second doses?
What this pause means for second doses is not clear at this moment There is a more predictable supply of other vaccines coming and Canada should have information on mixing and matching different vaccine brands in the next 1 or 2 weeks based on a large study being conducted in the United Kingdom.
Where can I get updates?
We will update you as soon as we have information. You can also check the provincial and our local public health unit website as well. Ontario's central vaccine management system has a record of when and where you were vaccinated and with which vaccine -- so no one will be left behind with a second dose.
Please remember – our office is open to you, by phone or in person to answer any vaccination questions. We are here to help keep you safe and get through this pandemic together.
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770 Broadview Ave #201, Ottawa, ON K2A 3Z3, Canada
Phone: (613) 680-1065
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