Health Canada extends expiry for some Ontario AstraZeneca doses by one month

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TORONTO — Ontario says it has received permission from Health Canada to extend the expiry of some doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott says the authorization to change the expiry from six to seven months came after a review of "stability data."

Alexandra Hilkene says this will mean vaccine doses with an original expiry of May 31 can now be used until July 1.

Pharmacies and physicians offices had been rushing to administer thousands of shots this weekend ahead of the expiry to avoid wasting doses.

Ontario had been trying to redistribute a stockpile of 45,000 shots expiring on Monday and 10,000 more going bad in June.

But quality checks held up the delivery of thousands of the shots, and many weren't delivered until Friday.

Justin Bates, the head of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, said that with just three days left to complete vaccinations, participating pharmacies would need to work hard over the weekend to avoid waste.

The province paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this month due to an increase in reports of rare but deadly blood clots.

The province started offering it again this week as a second shot to people who received the dose between March 10 and March 19 at pharmacies in Toronto, Windsor and Kingston, and at some primary care offices.

Approximately 90,000 people participated in an AstraZeneca pilot between March 10 and March 19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2021.

Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press