Quebec Clarifies Second Dose Policy for Those Who Received AstraZeneca Vaccine

Today, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé is trying to clear up an “error of communication” regarding the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and second doses, after a notice on the province’s website appeared to signal a significant change in the province’s vaccination strategy.

The post Wednesday stated that people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine as a first dose should switch to an mRNA vaccine — either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna — for their second dose.

This raised questions, given that the province has been administering AstraZeneca as a second dose for nearly three weeks.

On Thursday, Health Minister Dubé apologized and said the wording was inaccurate.

“There was a statement yesterday that was wrong. People that have received AstraZeneca [as a first dose] should not necessarily take an mRNA [vaccine as a second dose,” Health Minister Dubé said at a news conference. “There was a mistake.”

The message on the government’s website has since been modified. It now says that people who received AstraZeneca for their first dose “could receive” an mRNA vaccine and it “appears preferable” to do so, based on a review of research by Quebec’s immunization committee (CIQ).

Health Minister Dubé said people who received a dose of AstraZeneca still have the option of receiving a second dose of the same, or receiving Pfizer or Moderna.

Health Minister Dubé said the mistake on the website was due to a misinterpretation of the latest recommendations from the province’s immunization committee (CIQ).

The CIQ recommends people aged 45 and up who received AstraZeneca for their first dose opt for Pfizer or Moderna for their second one. It says recent data suggests that doing so will provide stronger protection against COVID-19.

It also states that choosing a second dose of AstraZeneca is also still an option.

Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious diseases specialist at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital, said early research suggests mixing doses is effective.

“When the first dose is AstraZeneca and the [booster] is Pfizer or Moderna, there have been a lot of hints that that will probably give you the best overall immune response,” Dr. Oughton said.

“But the definitive study will be reported, they keep on saying, in June, which we’re in now so hopefully within the next two weeks.”

Ultimately, though, an individual’s decision may come down to supply. Quebec is running out of AstraZeneca doses and it’s not clear when the next batch will arrive, while more Pfizer and Moderna is set to arrive in the coming weeks.


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