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Saskatchewan reviewing second-dose strategy for AstraZeneca recipients

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan reviewing second-dose strategy for AstraZeneca recipients' Saskatchewan reviewing second-dose strategy for AstraZeneca recipients
WATCH: Saskatchewan is reviewing its second-dose strategy for people who received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, leaving some residents stuck in the middle – May 18, 2021

Glenn Chernick says it feels a bit like being stuck in limbo.

The Regina man received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 16 at the city’s drive-thru immunization site.

“At the time, it was recommended to take the first dose that’s offered to you and that was AstraZeneca,” Chernick told Global News Monday.

Saskatchewan, like other provinces, pressed pause on the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week, deciding to stop offering it as a first dose.

Read more: COVID-19 — B.C. holding remaining AstraZeneca shots for 2nd doses due to ‘limited availability’

While the risk of vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) that was associated with the product remains low, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has determined it is higher than originally anticipated. This month, NACI suggested that Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s mRNA vaccines are “preferred.”

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Also, variant-driven coronavirus outbreaks around the world are disrupting the AstraZeneca supply chain. Saskatchewan, which has received 72,100 doses of the product to date, is set to receive another 20,400 doses this coming week, according to Health Canada’s website. After that, allocations are unclear. Provincial officials continue to emphasize this, plus the boom in mRNA products underway, is a main driver of distribution plans here.

“We’re getting mixed messages and that’s a bit frightening,” said Chernick.

“I still think I made the right decision,” he said. “I’m just a little concerned if I’m going to get AstraZeneca for my second dose.”

Read more: Canada could donate excess AstraZeneca doses to other countries, Anand suggests

According to Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health, AstraZeneca recipients, like Chernick, won’t be eligible for a second shot until sometime around mid-June.

For now, the plan is to offer people the same product, a ministry spokesperson said in an email, but that could change before then.

“However, national reviews on the possibility of mixing vaccine brands is ongoing,” the email stated. “If evidence about mixing brands determines that this is safe, and based on the brand allocations we receive in Saskatchewan, public health recommendations on second doses may be updated.”

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Read more: COVID-19 — B.C. holding remaining AstraZeneca shots for 2nd doses due to ‘limited availability’

Brad Irwin is hopeful his second dose will be AstraZeneca, just like his first.

The Goodwater, Sask., man received his first shot in Regina at the drive-thru on March 18.

“I, myself, had no problems with it,” said Irwin, who didn’t have any side effects to report at all. “I was just happy to get it.”

Although he’d prefer to stick with the same brand, he’s open to mixing and matching if it’s deemed safe.

“I’ll take whatever is available first chance I get,” he said.

“The quicker everyone gets vaccinated, the quicker we can hopefully get back to our normal lives.”

Click to play video: 'AstraZeneca pause a surprise to those administering vaccines' AstraZeneca pause a surprise to those administering vaccines
AstraZeneca pause a surprise to those administering vaccines – May 13, 2021

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