Ontarians report issues with 2nd AstraZeneca dose bookings as expiry date looms
Published Tuesday, May 25, 2021 7:06AM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, May 25, 2021 2:16PM EDT
TORONTO -- The first cohort of Ontarians who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in March reported booking headaches and a lack of clarity as they sought to schedule their second jabs on Tuesday.
Those who got their first AstraZeneca shots between March 10 and March 19 during a pharmacy pilot project are being prioritized as the province rushes to use a stockpile of 45,000 doses set to expire in roughly a week.
Ontario recently stopped giving out first doses of that vaccine due to what it said was an increased risk of very rare blood clots.
Val Logan, 60, says she called the Toronto pharmacy where she got her first shot to ensure she was on a waitlist for the second dose but was directed to call another location to make her appointment.
She says the new venue added her to their list, but advised her that people who got their first doses at that location would be prioritized. Logan says she was hoping the process would be more straightforward.
Others reported similar challenges, with pharmacies that administered their first shots not offering the second, and some said they were unsure where to call to book their second doses.
"I kind of feel that we're now being left in the lurch a bit," Logan said by phone on Monday.
"We took the advice that the best vaccine is the first one you're offered, and we're more than happy to take the AstraZeneca, but now I feel we might fall through a crack here."
The recommended interval between AstraZeneca shots is at least 12 weeks, but second injection is being offered to the first group of recipients after 10 weeks in Ontario to use up the province's stockpile.
Another 10,000 doses of AstraZeneca expire next month, and the province currently has more than 300,000 doses in stock.
The province has said those who got their first dose of AstraZeneca after March 19 will be able to book their second in the near future.
AstraZeneca has been linked to rare, potentially fatal blood clots, prompting several provinces to recently limit its use as they await further research. Ontario has since said it will use the vaccine as a second dose only.
The province's initial AstraZeneca pilot ran in early March in 325 pharmacies in Toronto, Windsor-Essex, and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington. Primary care offices in six communities also gave out the AstraZeneca shot during that period.
At the time, adults aged 60-64 where eligible to get the shot in those settings.
Since then, nearly one million people in Ontario aged 40 and older have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Ontario reported 1,039 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and 1,446 new cases on Monday. The province reported eight deaths from the virus on Sunday and 33 on Monday.
The Ministry of Health did not release its daily report on the virus on the Victoria Day holiday.
The province said 692 people were in intensive care because of COVID-19 and 498 were on ventilators as of Tuesday morning.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2021.