N.S. to resume using AstraZeneca vaccine for second doses

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Nova Scotia announced anyone who has received a first dose of AstraZeneca can now receive a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, or opt for Pfizer or Moderna. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Nova Scotia announced anyone who has received a first dose of AstraZeneca can now receive a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, or opt for Pfizer or Moderna. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

Nova Scotia announced Tuesday it will resume using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, but for second doses only.

The province paused its use on May 12 out of what it described as an "abundance of caution" over a rare but potentially fatal blood-clotting condition.

Tuesday's announcement follows new guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which examined the interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccines approved by Health Canada.

In a news release, the province announced anyone who has received a first dose of AstraZeneca can now receive a second dose of AstraZeneca, or opt for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Nova Scotians who received a first dose of Pfizer or Moderna, can choose a second dose of either Pfizer or Moderna.

58,000 AZ doses administered in N.S.

The Department of Health said that approximately 58,000 people who received a first dose of AstraZeneca will be getting a notice by email to reschedule their second dose appointment. Notices will be issued starting this week.

The province has about 2,000 doses of AstraZeneca that will expire at the end of the month, but will request more supply from the federal government if needed.

As of Monday, 588,991 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to Nova Scotians, with 43,561 of those being a second dose.

Lower case numbers continue

Earlier in the day, the province reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 and 91 recoveries, continuing a downward trend on the number of infections.

That brings the total active cases to 369.

There are eight new cases in the central zone. Six of these are close contacts of previous cases, while two are under investigation.

Three cases are in the eastern zone. Two cases are close contacts, and the other is under investigation.

One case is in the northern zone and is a close contact.

There is still "limited" community spread in the central zone, while the other zones are being monitored.

Nova Scotia health authority labs completed 3,576 tests on Monday.

There are 38 patients in hospital with the coronavirus as of Tuesday, with 15 in intensive care.

"While I'm encouraged to see low case numbers being reported, I want to remind Nova Scotians to remain vigilant and follow all the public health measures and protocols," Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said in a release.

"The decision to move to the next phase is not only based on COVID-19 activity, but also on public health and testing capacity, hospitalizations and vaccination rates."

Reopening plan starts tomorrow

On Friday, Rankin and Strang announced details of Nova Scotia's reopening plan, the first phase of which begins Wednesday.

This includes outdoor dining, gathering outside with a group of up to 10 without distancing, and non-essential retail opening to 25 per cent capacity.

People can now travel throughout the province as of Tuesday, while still following restrictions.

Vaccine appointments are now available to everyone in Nova Scotia aged 12 and up and as of Tuesday, about 56 per cent of the total population has received at least one dose.

On Monday, Strang told CBC's Information Morning he's confident Nova Scotia will meet the vaccine targets laid out in the reopening plan and optimistic the plan will advance in two-week intervals. Each phase is slated to last between two and four weeks.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

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