Due to supply issues, Alberta has stopped administering first doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The province is running low on this vaccine, and, according to a statement from Alberta Health Services, there are no known future shipments of AstraZeneca at this time.
Meanwhile, Alberta has been receiving the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in “large and consistent shipments,” Tom McMillan, Assistant Director, Communications at Alberta Health, told Daily Hive.
Alberta Health Services didn’t comment on whether the recent deaths in Canada related to the AstraZeneca vaccine were a factor in this decision, citing the lack of supply as the reason.
“We will continue to monitor the emerging research and keep Albertans informed in the weeks ahead,” said McMillan, adding that the province will keep adapting to the supply available and any new research.
Alberta has about 8,400 doses of AstraZeneca left and plans to use the remaining supply for second doses or anyone with a contraindication to an mRNA vaccine.
“There have been approximately 255,000 first doses of AstraZeneca administered in the province,” said McMillan, adding that over 236,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna are arriving this week alone.
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The Public Health Agency of Canada told Daily Hive that, with significant increases to mRNA vaccine supply in Canada beginning in May, it is expected that jurisdictions will continue to review and adjust their vaccination programs.
While it is up to provinces to decide how best to distribute vaccines, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said on Tuesday that she understands why provinces like Alberta are making this decision.
“There is not that much left of the existing AstraZeneca supply,” she said. “They feel that as a prudent measure, that they would keep the small amount they have left in order to ensure that second dose, for those who already have it.”
As of May 9, a total of 1,916,957 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Alberta, and 318,841 individuals are considered fully immunized with two doses of vaccine.