As the province rolls out the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to pharmacies across the province for public immunizations, there’s one region where there won’t be any immediate availability.
AstraZeneca, one of four approved COVID-19 vaccines in Canada, is being distributed to pharmacies in the Lower Mainland, Okanagan, central and northern BC, and Vancouver Island for people 40 years of age and older. However, there are no pharmacies in the Kootenays east of Vernon earmarked for AstraZeneca supply, according to the British Columbia Pharmacy Association.
Interior Health says it made recommendations for which communities to consider prioritizing with AstraZeneca based on COVID-19 activity and risk, following a media inquiry.
“As the provincial rollout accelerates, elements of the strategy are re-evaluated to ensure our campaign is targeted and strategic,” according to IH statement. “We are seeing targeted clinics activated in high-risk areas throughout the province and if the risk increases locally, we will provide ongoing updates to any changes in the campaign approach.”
Currently, AstraZeneca is also being utilized in specific communities or neighbourhoods in Metro Vancovuer through clinics that are being set up to respond to high-risk areas.
AstraZeneca was distributed to provincial pharmacies after the rollout was put on pause in order to scrutinize reported claims of blood-clotting that were made by various global regulators. However, Health Canada issued an update on April 14 regarding the use of AstraZeneca, stating that “no specific risk factors” have been identified after a review of data from the United Kingdom and Europe.
Additional guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) regarding AstraZeneca is expected in the coming days.
The federal government’s forecasted vaccine allocation shows that there were 203,800 doses of U.S. AstraZeneca sent to British Columbia between March 29 – April 4, while a further 42,900 doses of the COVAX AstraZeneca were sent to the province between April 5-11.
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