Alberta stops giving first doses of AstraZeneca vaccine due to supply issues

Alberta has stopped administering first doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

In a statement Tuesday, Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said since there are no known future shipments of AstraZeneca at this time, a determination was made to utilize the remaining supply as second doses.

Read more: Alberta ‘temporarily pausing’ use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for those under 55

“Unlike with AstraZeneca, Alberta is receiving the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in large and consistent shipments,” McMillan said. “More than 236,000 doses are arriving this week alone.”

“Alberta has administered approximately 255,000 first doses of AstraZeneca and 2,200 second doses. The remaining supply of about 8,400 doses will be used as second doses.”

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Data around use of AstraZeneca needs to be viewed in context of circumstance, experts say

Use of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been under added scrutiny in recent weeks, particularly after Canada’s panel of vaccine experts recommended that people who aren’t at a high risk of COVID-19 may want to wait to get a dose of BioNTech or Moderna.

Read more: COVID-19: Ontario likely to mix 1st, 2nd vaccine doses amid lack of AstraZeneca supply

When asked if the move was at least in part due to concerns over rare blood clots linked to AstraZeneca, McMillan replied the decision was “based on the fact that we are receiving no known future shipments of AstraZeneca at this time but are receiving large quantities of mRNA vaccines.”

“We will continue to monitor the emerging research, and keep Albertans informed in the weeks ahead,” McMillan added, saying the province will continue to adapt depending on supply and emerging research.

Click to play video: 'Alberta health minister offers condolences to family of woman who died from blood clot linked to AstraZeneca vaccine' 1:22 Alberta health minister offers condolences to family of woman who died from blood clot linked to AstraZeneca vaccine

Alberta health minister offers condolences to family of woman who died from blood clot linked to AstraZeneca vaccine

Speaking to Global News Morning Calgary on Tuesday, Sarah Mackey from Vax Hunters Alberta said she wasn’t surprised by the decision.

“We knew that the AstraZeneca supply was a little more up in the air — we weren’t sure what that was going to look like — and because the Pfizer doses are coming in now so steadily, it makes sense to shift that to our primary option,” Mackey said.

“There’s been such mixed messages around AstraZeneca. I think a lot of people are saying, ‘Well, why did I get AstraZeneca if I could have waited a couple weeks and gotten Pfizer?’ but the people who got AstraZeneca a couple of weeks ago are the reason that we’re able to expand eligibility so quickly, because they just moved the process along so quickly using up all of our supply. That’s what we want. We want every dose to be in somebody’s arm.”

Vax Hunters Alberta is a group that helps people throughout the province track down COVID-19 vaccine appointment availabilities.

– With files from The Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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