No P.E.I. decision yet on 2nd AstraZeneca dose

·2 min read
Many Islanders have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but what they will receive for their second dose is uncertain.  (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit)
Many Islanders have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but what they will receive for their second dose is uncertain. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit)

P.E.I. is still waiting for updated advice from national officials about what second dose of COVID-19 vaccine should be given to Islanders who received a first dose of AstraZeneca-Oxford.

Chief Public Health Officer Heather Morrison was asked about the vaccine during her regular weekly pandemic briefing Tuesday.

On March 11, P.E.I. began a program vaccinating young people with AstraZeneca. That program was suspended on March 29 when new research found a risk of developing blood clots. A week later, on guidance that the risk was low in older people, pharmacists began offering the vaccine to people 55 and older.

But last week the province stopped using AstraZeneca altogether for first doses. Research on mixing AstraZeneca with mRNA vaccines is continuing.

"It's important that we wait for the best advice coming and the best direction we get nationally," Morrison said.

"If there's an mRNA vaccine that's recommended for the second dose we'll have that available. If there's AstraZeneca that's recommended as a second dose we'll have that available."

People who received their first dose of AstraZeneca can expect to hear from the pharmacy that gave them that vaccine with information about their second shot, she said.

Morrison noted there is AstraZeneca vaccine in the provincial pharmacy. She said she has asked Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam about what might be done with it, whether it might be used in other parts of Canada or in another country. She said she is still waiting for a response.

Vaccinations moving into schools

Morrison made two announcements regarding vaccinating children.

Effective Tuesday, the province lowered the age of people eligible to book vaccine appointments from 16 to 12.

Morrison also said Health PEI will be holding vaccination appointments in schools, which she said they are well practised at with other vaccines.

"They're really good at doing school-based programs. They're used to working with the schools," she said.

Students in grades 7 to 9 can expect to be offered vaccines in schools in June. Appointments for people aged 12 and up can now also be booked online for public clinics.

Vaccination rate picking up

The province is expecting 12,000 doses of mRNA vaccines this coming week, the biggest delivery yet.

About 1,500 vaccines a day are being administered, and Health PEI Chief of Nursing Marion Dowling said more appointments can be added when the supply is there.

Morrison said that as of Saturday, 73,978 doses of vaccine have been administered on P.E.I., including 11,765 second doses. That represents 44.2 per cent of Islanders over the age of 12 with at least one dose, 8.4 per cent with two.

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