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B.C.'s COVID numbers trend down as questions loom over AstraZeneca use

Last Updated May 12, 2021 at 10:41 am PDT

Several vials of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a pharmacy in Amherstview, Ontario on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues across Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

B.C. says it's not expecting AstraZeneca shipments in the short term

Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan already announced they will not offer AstraZeneca's vaccine as a first dose

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The number of new COVID-19 infections continues to slowly decrease in B.C. as the number of people getting vaccinated grows.

But while more shots are being administered, questions remain over whether B.C. is going to follow the lead of other provinces which have paused use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

There were 515 new cases of the virus reported on Tuesday — the lowest in months.

This came after more than 2.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered — more than 110,000 of which are second doses.

But debate about the AstraZeneca vaccine continues. Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan have already announced they would no longer offer that version of the vaccine as a first dose.

Alberta and Saskatchewan say their decisions are due to supply shortages. However, citing recent evidence of an increase in VITT blood clotting incidents, Ontario has said its decision was made “out an abundance of caution.”

B.C. hasn’t outright said it’s temporarily stopping the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, and shots are still being administered in some jurisdictions.

“AstraZeneca is a safe and effective vaccine and has been an important part of our immunization program in British Columbia,” reads a statement from the Ministry of Health to reporters.

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The province says AstraZeneca vaccines make up about 10 per cent of the shots B.C. has received to date, and that they “helped increase our vaccination rates during March and April when vaccine supply was limited and case rates were the highest.”

However, the same statement says B.C. isn’t expecting any new AstraZeneca shipments in the short term. Because of that, the province says it will primarily use Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna doses.

“We do expect to receive additional AstraZeneca to ensure everyone can receive their second dose, or if they prefer to receive AstraZeneca over a mRNA vaccine or have contraindications to mRNA, like an allergic reaction,” the statement continues.

Meanwhile, people in B.C. who are 30 years and older will be able to book their vaccine appointments as of Wednesday evening.