British Columbians who opted for the AstraZeneca plc COVID-19 vaccine for their first dose will be able to get their second doses from the same manufacturer, the province’s top doctor promised Monday.
Dr. Bonnie Henry also said it remains a very real possibility for those AstraZeneca recipients to choose the Pfizer Inc. vaccine instead in the coming weeks.
B.C. suspended administering first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this month amid shrinking supplies as manufacturers in India, where much of Canada’s supply has come from, deal with a surge in their own country.
American regulators have yet to approve the vaccine in their country and only a limited supply has entered Canada from the U.S. in what officials south of the border have described as a loan.
U.S. President Joe Biden announced earlier Monday that his country would soon be shipping 60 million doses throughout the world to help tamp down on the pandemic.
Henry reassured B.C. residents that they will have the option of getting AstraZeneca for their second dose.
A total of 315,000 AstraZeneca doses have been delivered to B.C. to date, while the province currently has about 20,000 doses left in its own stockpile as it awaits further deliveries.
Henry said health officials expect to examine studies from the U.K. in the coming weeks that examine the efficacy of mixing and matching the AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses.
“I ask people to be patient. We know that we have some time as your system is developing its protective response to your first dose,” she said.
“You will have the option of receiving the second dose of AstraZeneca and we have stocks coming in to be able to support that. Or you can take the information once we have it and make your own decision about what you want for your second [dose].”
To date, 2,390,375 British Columbians — or about 55% of the eligible adult population — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Another 130,023 people — or about 3% of the eligible population — have received two doses.
Henry said details on administering Pfizer doses to children 12-17 will be unveiled later this week.
The Pfizer vaccine is the most widely used one throughout the country and it is the first of Canada’s four approved vaccines to get the nod for children 12-15 years old.
The vaccine has been permitted for children 16 years and up since December 2020.
“We know that children tend to have milder illness but it is not insignificant for many children and we’ve seen that here in B.C., too,” Henry said when asked about the World Health Organization’s request that wealthier donations postpone administering doses to children and teens and instead donate supplies to lower-income nations.