‘In all cases, it’s safe’: Quebec premier stands by advice on AstraZeneca vaccine

Quebec Premier Francois Legault, left, responds to reporters questions during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at the legislature in Quebec City. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

As the guidance seems to quickly change, Quebec’s premier is standing by the province’s latest position when it comes to administering second doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.

François Legault explained that people who got that brand of vaccine as their first shot can safely opt to stay the course or switch to mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna for their second dose.

Either choice is a good one, he said.

“In all cases, it’s safe according to Dr. Arruda and Quebec public health,” he told reporters Friday. “That’s what is important to take away.”

READ MORE: mRNA COVID-19 vaccines should be 2nd dose after AstraZeneca shot: NACI

Legault’s comments come one day after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) announced it is recommending Canadians who got the AstraZeneca vaccine first should get Pfizer or Moderna for their second shot.

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Quebec had also appeared to have changed its tune Wednesday and issued advice along the lines of NACI, but the provincial government walked it back the following day.

While the province’s immunization committee appears to believe Pfizer or Moderna are “preferable” as a booster, the Health Department says that two doses of AstraZeneca also offer strong protection against the virus. Only those who have experienced blood clots with low platelets following their first dose of AstraZeneca or who have a condition known as heparin-induced thrombocytopenia are specifically advised to get a different second shot.

Access to international flights

With restrictions slowly loosening, Legault said he doesn’t think those who received AstraZeneca doses will face barriers while travelling.

He said it was discussed during a telephone meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the other premiers on Thursday.

“It’s clear that either you get a double dose of AstraZeneca or double doses of Moderna or Pfizer, you will have access to international flights,” Legault said.

Click to play video: 'More confusion over AstraZeneca booster shot in Quebec' More confusion over AstraZeneca booster shot in Quebec
More confusion over AstraZeneca booster shot in Quebec – Jun 17, 2021

The premier also said the Canadian government is considering a plan to reopen the United States border to people who are fully vaccinated.

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Legault said it could happen when current border restrictions between the two countries expire next month. On Friday, the closure was extended to July 21.

Quebec isn’t planning to allow the use of proof of vaccination for people to access private activities, like concerts, he added.

with files from The Canadian Press

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