After Ontario suspends AstraZeneca first doses, Quebec says it has no similar plans

In the wake of Ontario's decision Tuesday to suspend the use of AstraZeneca for first doses, Quebec says it has no plans to make a similar move.

It's somewhat of a moot point right now in Quebec, which has almost no doses of AstraZeneca left. Ontario has roughly 50,000 in store, and decided it won't give them to anyone as first doses for the time being, citing the newest data around rare blood clots.

Quebec says that on paper, the AstraZeneca vaccine "is still available for people 45 years of age and older," but there's none in stock.

"As for the next arrivals of AstraZeneca vaccine, federal authorities should be contacted to find out more," wrote a provincial spokesperson.

The federal vaccine procurement centre told CTV Montreal that many more AstraZeneca doses are on the way: 655,000 COVAX doses "within the next number of weeks," and one million in June.

"We have been pressing for a precise delivery date for those doses from the COVAX facility and when we have that in hand, we will provide it to you," Anita Anand, the head of procurement, said in a press conference.

Her office confirmed Tuesday the numbers are still accurate.

In addition, Canada is still in talks with the United States about getting extra AstraZeneca doses from south of the border.

One idea frequently floated by Quebec authorities, and others across Canada, is to give people who already received AstraZeneca a second dose of a different kind of vaccine if AstraZeneca supply dries up or if it stops being used for any reason.

Quebec says it's "highly likely" that this will be possible, but that it's awaiting scientific studies on the question. 

Another bottom line, however, is that the second dose won't be postponed "if the product already used is not available," wrote Ministry of Health spokesperson Robert Maranda.

Quebec has guaranteed to give residents a second dose within four months of their first.

If there are supply issues making it hard to get the same type of second dose on schedule, "the vaccination will be completed with a vaccine of a similar type," he wrote, meaning the two kinds of mRNA vaccines -- Pfizer and Moderna -- can be mixed and matched, and the viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca, Covishield) can be mixed.

This is a developing story that will be updated.

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