With use of AstraZeneca vaccine as 1st dose suspended in N.L., those who've had it have concerns

·3 min read
The more than two million Canadians who received the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine made the right choice and should not regret their decision, health experts say, despite some provinces suspending its rollout over concerns about the risk of rare blood clots. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)
The more than two million Canadians who received the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine made the right choice and should not regret their decision, health experts say, despite some provinces suspending its rollout over concerns about the risk of rare blood clots. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Out of the almost 24,000 doses of vaccine administered in this province, about 1 in 10 is AstraZeneca-Oxford.

The province has stopped giving those shots as a first dose because of the risk of developing a blood clot, and that's left the people who've already had AstraZeneca wondering what they should do when the time comes for their second shot.

"People make the best decisions they can with the information that they have at the time. And that's true for all of us," said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald on Tuesday.

As of late April, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said the risk of developing vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia, or VITT, was about one in 100,000 instances.

Sharon King wishes she had waited for more information instead of jumping at the chance to get the AstraZeneca shot as soon as she could last month.
Sharon King wishes she had waited for more information instead of jumping at the chance to get the AstraZeneca shot as soon as she could last month. (Sharon King/CBC)

N.L. resident Sharon King, who received the AstraZeneca vaccine a month ago, says she's sorry she "jumped" to get it as quickly as she did.

"Had I waited another month, and all this news had come out about different provinces shutting it down, I definitely would not have gotten it," she said. "I probably would have waited for a different vaccine that was more proven, with less issues."

Susan Oke-Cumby is another person who jumped at the chance for the AstraZeneca vaccine when it was made available to her.

She doesn't regret her decision, but she's looking for more information about what her next step should be as she prepares for her second dose.

"I'm just concerned about whether or not the two vaccines could be mixed safely," she said.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says vaccines are the best path forward.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says vaccines are the best path forward. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

According to Fitzgerald, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and health officials worldwide are still figuring that out.

"At the moment, we're still waiting for some information as to whether or not [AstraZeneca] could be a second shot. In other words, that it could be the booster and you wouldn't need to do a full series of the vaccine. The U.K. study that's being done … we've had some initial information that's come out about reactions and that sort of thing, but we haven't had the immunogenicity data yet," said Fitzgerald.

Since both the virus and the vaccines are new, Fitzgerald said, there will be new information discovered about both, and while some people might be nervous about shifting advice, vaccination on the whole is the proven path forward.

"That's why we have such good vaccine vigilance programs here, and in other countries — in the U.S., in the U.K," said Fitzgerald.

"We're really looking closely at what happens with these vaccines when they're given on the scale of millions and millions of doses. We're always looking for those kind of safety signals that you might see from time to time, and if we do see anything, as we do with AstraZeneca, we will investigate further and we'll try to develop our recommendations based on what the science shows us."

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