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What the new mRNA COVID-19 vaccine recommendation means for Alberta

Click to play video: 'NACI recommends Pfizer or Moderna for people who received AstraZeneca as first COVID-19 vaccine shot' NACI recommends Pfizer or Moderna for people who received AstraZeneca as first COVID-19 vaccine shot
Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam announced on Thursday that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has updated its guidance for people who received an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine first shot to recommend receiving an mRNA vaccine as a second shot, either a Moderna or a Pfizer vaccine, citing an emerging evidence on potentially better immune response with this mixed vaccine schedule. – Jun 17, 2021

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be offered to Albertans getting their second doses, despite a new recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) about what should follow a first dose of AstraZeneca.

Read more: mRNA COVID-19 vaccines should be 2nd dose after AstraZeneca shot: NACI

“An mRNA vaccine should now be offered as the second dose for individuals who received a first dose of AstraZeneca or COVISHIELD vaccine,” Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said on Thursday.

Earlier this month, NACI said those who received a first dose of AstraZeneca could opt for a second dose of either AstraZeneca or one of the mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer or Moderna.

Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said the “vast majority” of those who have received a first dose of AstraZeneca in Alberta have opted for a second dose of mRNA vaccine.

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However, Albertans who received a first dose of AstraZeneca will still be able to choose which vaccine to receive for their second dose.

“Both vaccines are good and will help protect you against COVID-19. The choice is up to each Albertan, but there is emerging evidence that mixing doses can produce an even stronger immune response,” McMillan said.

Read more: Experts fear AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine wastage after NACI recommends mixing doses

Approximately 278,000 doses of AstraZeneca have been administered in Alberta, with approximately 256,800 given as first doses and approximately 21,200 given as second doses.

“I wish to emphasize that people who received two doses of AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine should rest assured that the vaccine they received provides good protection against infection, and very good protection against severe disease and hospitalization,” Tam said.

There are roughly 22,000 doses of AstraZeneca currently unused in Alberta, McMillan said.

He said AstraZeneca remains available for first doses for those who have a contraindication to mRNA vaccines.

— With files from David Lao, Global News

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