More Ontario pharmacies to offer Pfizer, Moderna following AstraZeneca first-dose pause
TORONTO -- As the province prepares to ramp up its administration of mRNA vaccines through pharmacies, Ontarians who received the now-paused AstraZeneca shot as their first dose are waiting for guidance on how and when they’ll get their second jab.
“I think it’s starting to scare people more than it should,” Kelly Mulholland, who received an AstraZeneca shot in April, said of the government’s decision to halt the use of the viral-vector vaccine for first doses.
Provincial officials announced the move suddenly Tuesday, citing an “abundance of caution.” The risk of vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia, or VITT, associated with AstraZeneca has been pegged at one in 60,000.
“I don’t know if I’m all that concerned, it’s still one in 60,000,” Mulholland said. “There’s other things that give you worse risk than that.”
“I’d still take another shot,” said Faith Azzarello, who also got AstraZeneca last month.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Isaac Bogoch stressed Wednesday that people who did get that shot should not have buyer’s remorse.
“To everyone out there who got AstraZeneca, including my wife, […] that was the right thing to do. You did the right thing, you you got a very effective vaccine.”
But inside the Super Seven Pharmacy in Pickering, owner Manish Patel was fielding calls from people concerned about receiving second doses.
“For now we don’t have any instructions from the Ministry,” Patel said. “We are telling people they have to be patient.”
Officials have not yet offered any guidance on whether AstraZeneca might still be available for second doses. In Ontario some 50,000 doses have not yet been used, many of which are set to expire by the end of May or beginning of June—and 254,500 more doses will arrive the week of May 17.
“I’d like to know what I’m getting for my second dose now,” one customer at the Durham pharmacy said Wednesday.
Ontario’s Health Minister has suggested it may be possible for people who received AstraZeneca as a first dose to receive an mRNA shot like Pfizer as their second, but officials are still assessing data out of a U-K study on mixing-and-matching vaccine types.
The province has promised more guidance on second doses shortly. Meanwhile, Pfizer and Moderna are being made available to more pharmacies, with 2,450 of them expected to deliver the mRNA shots by the week of May 24.