As Ontario stops administering first doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, politicians of all levels are touting their support for the shot – and its safety.
Provincial health officials announced the AstraZeneca pause on May 8 – a “preliminary measure” after a reported increase in rare but serious blood clots following immunization.
As of May 12, there had been 28 suspected cases of vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) across Canada.
In the days since, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and Toronto Mayor John Tory – all of whom received an AstraZeneca shot – have voiced their support for the vaccine.
Tory told Daily Hive that he would “happily” get AstraZeneca as his second shot, and would be willing to receive it earlier if it would prevent doses from going to waste.
Tory commented that people’s concerns are “entirely reasonable,” but noted that Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, has said that the vaccine continues to be safe.
“I want to reassure residents to not be worried if they, like me, received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Tory said.
“People did the right thing by getting the AstraZeneca vaccine when they were eligible and when it was available. Everyone who gets vaccinated is doing their part to help stop the spread of the virus. ”
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Ford echoed Tory’s sentiments at a press conference on May 13. When asked about the province’s pause, the Premier said he’d take a second dose of AstraZeneca “in a second.”
Christine Elliott, Ontario’s Minister of Health, said data out of the UK shows a “dramatically reduced risk” of developing VITT with the second dose of the company’s vaccine.
There is also information to suggest that mixing a first dose of AstraZeneca with a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna is “perfectly safe,” she noted.
In a statement sent to Daily Hive, Trudeau revealed that he had “no hesitations and no regrets” about getting an AstraZeneca dose.
With millions of Pfizer and Moderna doses arriving in Canada over the coming weeks, it’s “to be expected” that people will receive an mRNA vaccine, he said.
Officials have said there will be enough doses of AstraZeneca available for those who want a second shot, or anyone who is unable to receive an mRNA vaccine.
“Every vaccine used in Canada has been approved as safe and effective,” Trudeau said.
“The important thing is that everyone gets vaccinated as quickly as possible.”