P.E.I. suspends AstraZeneca vaccine program

·3 min read
On P.E.I. the AstraZeneca vaccine was being delivered in pharmacies. (Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images - image credit)
On P.E.I. the AstraZeneca vaccine was being delivered in pharmacies. (Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images - image credit)

P.E.I. is suspending its use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for 18- to 29-year-olds.

The province had set aside its AstraZeneca vaccines for people aged 18 to 29 who are working directly with the public. It was being delivered by pharmacists in the province, separately from the provincially run vaccination clinics.

The province's initial supply of 2,000 doses had been running short in some areas, but it was expecting another 6,000 doses this week.

On Monday morning, however, CBC News began hearing from Islanders that their appointments had been cancelled.

Responding to a CBC News email, a spokesperson for the Department of Health confirmed delivery of the vaccine had been suspended.

"Appointments at pharmacies for AstraZeneca vaccine for those 18-29 are on hold pending anticipated further information from Health Canada and NACI (National Advisory Committee on Immunization)," the email said.

"We expect more information on this later today."

The email did not contain any information on why the vaccine was suspended.

Cancellation concerning

Twenty-six-year-old Maggie Gordon was one of the Islanders who received a call Monday morning that her appointment had been cancelled.

"They just said that they have to rebook all of our appointments because the chief health officer has suspended the pharmacy vaccines for the week, and they weren't sure why," Gordon told CBC News.

Prince Edward Island announced Monday that it is suspending its AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine program, which was geared to 18-29-year-olds, pending 'further information' from Health Canada. New Brunswick has not said whether it is considering suspending AstraZeneca vaccines for now.
Prince Edward Island announced Monday that it is suspending its AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine program, which was geared to 18-29-year-olds, pending 'further information' from Health Canada. New Brunswick has not said whether it is considering suspending AstraZeneca vaccines for now.(Matthias Schrader/The Associated Press file photo)

The pharmacist didn't know when they can rebook, she said.

"I just hope we get some information about why it's being halted — if they are looking into the safety of it, if something happened in Canada — or what's going on," said Gordon.

"I do hope that the chief health officer responds quickly so there isn't any hesitancy with getting the vaccine, because it is a great thing for us to be getting, and as many people should get it as possible."

'I was all ready to go'

Chetan Saha lives in Stratford and was scheduled for an appointment at the Superstore Pharmacy in Summerside Monday, but he said he was called and told that it was cancelled.

Saha said the pharmacy told him they'd call him back.

"I was all ready to go and get my vaccine but now, I guess, I have to wait," Saha said.

Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is expected to recommend today a pause in the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine on those under the age of 55 because of safety concerns, sources told CBC News.

The expected change in guidance comes following reports of rare blood clots in some immunized patients.

This hasn't shaken Saha's confidence in getting the AstraZeneca vaccine, though. "I've always been following the science and looking at, you know, what our health authorities have been telling us," he said.

"I was pretty sure that these [blood clotting in some immunized patients] were isolated incidents, and that I believe that it was going to be taken care of and I'd be fine when I do take it."

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