B.C. pharmacies are receiving supplies of AstraZeneca vaccine and will begin calling people who got a first dose at a pharmacy starting next week, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday.
Second dose appointments for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are also being booked starting next week, Henry said at a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic June 3. People who have had AstraZeneca vaccine should not call pharmacies, but will be contacted once pharmacists are ready to deliver the second doses.
Henry said the officially recommended method is still to take the same vaccine for both, but “real world” experience indicates taking two different ones is safe, equally effective and may even confer better immunity. The risk of a rare blood clot infection is even lower for second doses, and Henry said she is recommending people choose for themselves.
“You can make the choice,” Henry said. “Your pharmacy will call you and if you’ve decided you want to take an mRNA vaccine you can just let them know.”
People who had AstraZeneca as a first dose and wish to attend a community clinic for either of the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer or Moderna, should register at the B.C. vaccination website or call 1-833-838-2323 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. seven days a week. Those in doubt if they are registered can do so again and will be notified if they are already in the appointment system, which will start generating second-dose appointments next week.
“There are some people who received AstraZeneca through their workplaces, and the health authorities are connecting with your workplace to provide you with the information that you need as well,” Henry said.
B.C. recorded 199 new cases of COVID-19 infection in the 24 hours up to Thursday, the third day in a row under 200 new infections. The improvement was particularly noticeable in the Fraser Health region, which saw 89 new cases, followed by 68 in Vancouver Coastal, 34 in Interior Health, six in Northern Health and two on Vancouver Island.
B.C. hospitals had 224 people in hospital as of June 3, with 62 people in intensive care, both declining in recent days along with community infection rates. There have been two additional COVID-19 related deaths in the past 24 hours, both people in their 60s.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said an intensive vaccination effort in Surrey has raised its rate to higher than the provincial average, which was almost 72 per cent for adults as of June 3. Additional efforts are underway in Richmond, one of the communities where vaccination rates have lagged.