British Columbia to use remaining AstraZeneca vaccine for second doses

VICTORIA — British Columbia will be holding its remaining stock of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to use as second doses for residents.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry say the change is due to the limited availability of the vaccine.

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The pair say in a joint statement all currently scheduled vaccination appointments through pharmacies will proceed, but no additional appointments will be booked.

British Columbia reported 600 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and 5,887 active infections, for a total of 137,223 since the pandemic began.

It also reported one new death, bringing the death toll to 1,625.

Several other provinces including Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec announced new restrictions on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week.

B.C. officials are working on a plan to give the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to youth aged 12 to 18 now that Health Canada has approved its use, Dix says.

On Wednesday, British Columbia also cleared the 50 per cent mark for eligible adults who have received at least one dose of vaccine, including more than 85 per cent of people aged 70 and over.

Dix and Henry say they are waiting on the results of studies examining the effects mixing doses of different vaccines as the province charts its immunization plan moving forward.

"No matter what your vaccine or when you may receive it, everyone will receive their second dose within 16 weeks of their first vaccine to maximize the protection for ourselves and those around us," they said in a joint statement.

Preliminary results of a study out of the United Kingdom said mixing the Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines causes more frequent mild to moderate symptoms.

However, the study said it was too early to determine whether immune response to mixed doses would be affected and those results are expected to be released in the coming months.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2021.

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