Canada: Pfizer, Moderna COVID-19 vaccine preferred 2nd dose after AstraZeneca

Pablo Tucker
June 19, 2021

On Thursday, NACI recommended that an mRNA vaccine - like Pfizer or Moderna - is the "preferred" choice because of AstraZeneca's associated risk of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia - a condition that causes blood clots combined with low platelets. "I have no worries whatsoever about mixing these vaccines", said Dr. Hassan Masri, an ICU specialist in Saskatoon.

Of those, 823,371 are second doses.

NACI is now also recommending that people who received Pfizer or Moderna as their first dose should be offered the same vaccine for their second.

There are no further shipments of AstraZeneca scheduled.

The Ontario Pharmacists Association said the situation had many of its members anxious their remaining stock of AstraZeneca could end up going to waste, despite the province maintaining that residents could still opt for that vaccine if desired.

Canada has been heavily criticized for buying three times as many doses of COVID-19 vaccine than it needs and not sharing any doses from its own direct purchase agreements with vaccine makers. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Friday's ruling supported the EU's view that AstraZeneca had failed to meet its commitments.

The Ministry of Health provides the breakdown of the first vaccine by type - AstraZeneca and Sinopharm.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the updated recommendation was not unexpected, given the preliminary data emerging in other parts of the world, but that B.C. was not changing its approach to the vaccine. Now NACI says everyone should always get the mRNA vaccines first, unless they are allergic to them.

"NACI's earlier recommendation that people who wanted earlier vaccination could receive a viral vector vaccine rather than wait for mRNA reflected supply of mRNA vaccines at the time". There are 1,320 active cases of COVID-19 in the community and 131 being treated in hospital, of which 44 are in intensive care.

In B.C., AstraZeneca was rolled out in March and April during the third wave of the pandemic as a way to immunize high-risk workers and people not yet eligible through the age-based rollout that mostly used Pfizer.

"It's really important for people to understand that those who are spreading fear and misinformation will not be at the bedside if you are sick".

It says Australia's decision does not change the approach here in Fiji. "It just means that it is safe enough for the majority of the population to be out and about, but it doesn't mean it is safe for everyone, and certainly it will not be safe for those who are not vaccinated", Masri said.

Masri said there was one patient in the ICU who ended up dying from COVID-19 who had expressed their regret about not getting vaccinated.

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