Alberta stops administering first doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine due to supply issues

Alberta Health says the province has stopped administering first doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in favour of other types of immunization because supply of the vaccine is expected to become scarce. 

In a statement, Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said Alberta’s existing supply of AstraZeneca will be used as second doses.

“There are no known future shipments,” McMillan said in a statement to CBC News on Tuesday. 

McMillan said it’s unclear when Alberta will get additional shipments of AstraZeneca and that lack of supply prompted provincial health officials to alter the immunization strategy.

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

“We will continue to monitor the emerging research, and keep Albertans informed in the weeks ahead.”

More than 250K doses administered 

Alberta has administered roughly 255,000 first doses of AstraZeneca and 2,200 second doses, Alberta Health said. 

The remaining supply accounts for about 8,400 doses, the statement said. 

Albertans aged 40 and older have been eligible for the shot since last month. Those aged 30 and older who live in Banff and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo had also been offered the shot in a bid to curb elevated cases of COVID-19 in those regions. 

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 the Pfizer or Moderna.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been linked to vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), an extremely rare blood clot disorder. To date, Alberta has reported two cases of VITT and one death.

The currently reported frequency of blood clots from the AstraZeneca vaccine ranges from one in 25,000 doses in Norway to one in one million doses in the U.K., Alberta Health said.

The federal government confirmed last week that it will continue to procure the product — and that well over a million doses are expected to arrive between now and the end of June.

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