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Quebec to no longer administer AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as first dose

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Mixed messaging around AstraZeneca vaccine highlights public distrust, uncertainty' COVID-19: Mixed messaging around AstraZeneca vaccine highlights public distrust, uncertainty
Mixed messaging around the AstraZeneca vaccine is leaving people with more questions than answers – May 12, 2021

Quebec is hitting pause on administering AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine as a first dose in the province.

The Health Ministry’s decision came Thursday following advice from the province’s immunization committee.

The province has used most of its available doses of that vaccine, which was only offered to Quebecers who are 45 and older. Those who have received AstraZeneca can choose whether to get a second dose of that vaccine or another available vaccine as a booster shot.

Health Minister Christian Dubé wrote on social media that some appointments were cancelled in the morning as a result.

“However, I want to reassure Quebecers who received AstraZeneca in the first dose: its effectiveness is high and lasting,” he said.

Quebec is the latest province to make a change in how it administers that vaccine amid concerns about a rare blood-clotting condition. Others include Ontario and Alberta.

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READ MORE: Did Alberta, Ontario make the right move with AstraZeneca? Experts weigh in

When asked about the decision, Premier François Legault kept his response short but said the government is “quite simply” abiding by the advice of health officials.

“The risks are very, very low,” he said. “But we’re following the recommendations of public health.”

The announcement comes as authorities recorded 781 new cases and five additional deaths attributable to COVID-19 in the province.

The immunization campaign saw another 95,959 doses of the novel coronavirus vaccine administered. More than four million shots have been given to date, the majority of which have been first doses.

Quebec opened vaccination to all residents over 18 on Thursday afternoon. The government has set a goal of giving a first dose to all adults who want one by June 24.

READ MORE: Montreal walk-in vaccinations available to those 25 and over

Meanwhile, pandemic-related hospitalizations dropped by 10 to 520. This includes 121 patients in intensive care units, a decrease of five from the previous day.

The latest screening information, which dates from Tuesday, shows 37,619 tests were carried out that day.

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The province’s case count stands at 360,982 one of the highest tallies of COVID-19 infections in the country. Recoveries, meanwhile, have now surpassed 342,000.

Quebec’s death toll has reached 11,017.

With files from The Canadian Press

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