33,000 Simcoe Muskoka residents 'made the right choice' getting first dose of AstraZeneca: SMDHU

Primary caregivers and select pharmacies will stop administering first doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine across Simcoe Muskoka.

The news comes after the Ontario government announced Tuesday it was hitting the pause button on giving more AstraZeneca first doses because of a small risk of a rare blood-clotting syndrome.

In Ontario, there have been eight cases of vaccine-induced blood clotting reported in those who received the AstraZeneca shot, and while the condition remains extremely rare, it can be fatal.

As of Monday, the health unit reports primary care teams in Simcoe Muskoka had administered 10,300 AstraZeneca first doses, while local pharmacies had given 23,300 doses to eligible residents.

On its website, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health unit states residents made the right choice to roll up their sleeves for the first available shot.

"Based on the much higher risks of COVID-19 infection recently observed in Ontario, including hospitalization, serious illness and death, we maintain that those who received their first dose with the AstraZeneca vaccine did absolutely the right thing to prevent illness and to protect their families, loved ones and communities."

The province said it should receive a quarter-million doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine next week. The government said those shots would be used for second doses for anyone who already had one, but the timing of that has yet to be determined.

The Simcoe Muskoka health unit notes that data points to a "much-reduced risk" of the rare blood-clotting condition (VIIT) in second doses of the AstraZeneca shot.

With files from CTV Toronto