Ottawa AstraZeneca recipients excited by shorter second dose interval
OTTAWA -- At the height of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ottawa’s Generation X lined up for doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the hundreds.
Now they’re ready to do it all again.
"I was quite excited. I’ve been waiting for them to open it up to eight weeks, all the other provinces except for Nova Scotia had done that," Lee Anne Watt said.
Just one day after the province shortened the mandatory time between AstraZeneca doses from 12 weeks to eight weeks, Watt was able to get an accelerated second dose; nine weeks after her first.
"I just kept hitting refresh (on the Walmart website) and eventually this morning at 9:30 a slot opened up and I literally left my house and was there five minutes later," Watt said.
Like Watt, many across Ottawa will now have to choose when to get their second shot and which type of vaccine they want.
"I know there’s a lot of AstraZeneca recipients who felt a ton of anxiety when the government was flipping and flopping and ended using them for first doses, so I think it’s a huge relief that they can go choose another brand for the second dose," Ariel Troster said.
Troster has been advocating for an earlier second dose on social media.
Now that she has options available, she’s choosing to get an mRNA vaccine through he family doctor.
"I still think it was a really good decision (to get AstraZeneca). I’m happy with the level of protection it gave us but now that we know more about the Delta variant and the need to accelerate second doses I’m very grateful that we’ll be able to go next week to get our second dose," Troster said.
Medical experts say choosing which vaccine to get depends on the person.
"(By mixing and matching vaccines) you might get greater side effects in the short run like headaches and fever and things like that, and you might get pretty good protection against Delta," said epidemiologist Raywat Deonandan.
"The downside is you may be waiting longer for an mRNA shot, so you’ve got to balance the advantages of the mix and match versus the timing."
On Monday, the provincial booking portal opens to AstraZeneca recipients looking to book a accelerated second shot but according to the city, appointments in Ottawa are scarce.
"It’s frustrating no question about that, because the province is sending 13,000, we’re supposed to get it this week, and that’s supposed to go to the pharmacy system but a lot of the pharmacists I talked to don’t know when they’re getting it or what the quantity is," said Mayor Jim Watson.
The Ontario Pharmacists Association says they need more doses of the mRNA vaccines and AstraZeneca to meet demand caused by the shortened timeline.
"Because of the lowering age thresholds and now criteria for second dose, more and more people are becoming eligible quicker and we’ve not seen a corresponding jump or increase in the vaccines going to pharmacies," said Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association.
Ottawa is expecting to receive 13,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine this week but those doses are designated for pharmacies.
"What we’re seeing is 100 doses of Moderna per pharmacy per week and 150 doses of Pfizer per pharmacy per week. They blow through that in 24-48 hours, we can do more,” Bates said.
The city requested 40,000 doses from the province, Watson says he expects to see increased shipments in the coming weeks.
"(Health Minister Christine Elliott) indicated that we’re close to per capita but in my way of thinking it has to be per capita not just close to it. I think we’re going to see a closing of that gap in the next couple of weeks," Watson said.