Waterloo Region, Ontario left in limbo with AstraZeneca vaccines
KITCHENER -- Health officials in Waterloo Region and all across the province are facing a number of questions about what to do with AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after its recent suspension.
Over 35,000 people in Waterloo Region have received their first dose of AstraZenca, while roughly 850,000 have gotten the shot in the province.
“The Chief Medical Officer of Heath has put a pause on the administering of first doses of AZ,” said Ontario health minister Christine Elliot. “We are waiting for the determination by Health Canada as well as the National Advisory Committee on Immunization on the situation.”
The province says the risk of rare vaccine induced blood clots in Ontario is now one in 60,000, which prompted the emergency halt of AstraZeneca.
Health officials say they are not currently giving second doses of this vaccine and are urging patience as a decision on what to do next is made.
AstraZeneca was administered at pharmacies in Waterloo Region as well as through some primary care offices, including at Dr. Neil Naik’s.
“It’s 112 days until you receive your second shot for any of the vaccines, so give us time,” the chair of the primary care council for KW-4 of the Ontario health team said. “Let us find out more information. It’s very possible that we might say it’s safe to get AstraZeneca, it’s possible we might say we are going to move on to another vaccine.
“Hold on tight. We want to make sure we make the right decision for all Ontarians.”
Dr. Naik adds that anyone who got the AstraZeneca shot should not have buyer’s remorse.
“We were facing significantly rising COVID-19 cases and an unsecure vaccine supply,” he said. “Experts agree that, at that stage, the first vaccine available was the best vaccine.”
When asked if they would take a second dose of AstraZeneca if it’s allowed, Waterloo Region residents say they recognize it’s a much safer option than risking the chance of getting COVID-19.
“I have confidence in the medical professionals to provide me with the info I need,” one resident tells CTV News. “I just want to be vaccinated so I can keep moving forward.”
Officials say that data from the United Kingdom indicates there is a reduced risk of clots in those who receive a second dose of AstraZeneca.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph's associate medical officer of health Dr. Matthew Tenenbaum said those who got the AstraZeneca jab "made the right choice."
More than 20,000 people in that region received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Tenenbaum said in a release Thursday morning.
"Getting AstraZeneca means you were vaccinated earlier than you would have been had you waited for another vaccine," he said. "That protected you and the people around you from COVID-19 and helped move our community toward the end of this pandemic."
Tenenbaum stressed the risk of blood clots associated with the vaccine is "very rare."
He's advising those who received a first dose to seek medical attention if they develop any signs or symptoms of a blood clot within four to 28 days of receiving the shot, which include severe headache, difficult moving parts of your body, seizures, blurred vision, shortness of breath or pain, swelling and redness in an arm or leg.
The Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph health unit will follow provincial and federal guidance regarding second doses of AstraZeneca when it becomes available.