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Ontario to resume AstraZeneca shots for COVID-19 as second dose

TORONTO — Ontario is resuming use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 but only as a second dose, saying health risks posed by the shot are low.

Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said Friday that those who received the first dose of AstraZeneca between March 10 and March 19 would be first in line to receive their second dose.

Starting next week, those people could opt to receive the second dose at an earlier 10-week interval in order to use up the 55,000 doses currently in refrigerators in pharmacies and family doctors’ offices – some of which will expire at the end of May.

The province said it is encouraging people who are eligible to reach out to the pharmacy or primary care provider where they received the first dose to book an appointment for the second shot.

Those same pharmacies and primary care providers could also be reaching out to eligible people, the province said.

Nearly one million people in Ontario aged 40 and older have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Williams said the province will provide further information on how individuals who received their first dose of the shot after March 19 can book a second dose appointment in the “near future.”

AstraZeneca is associated with rare, potentially fatal blood clots.

As a result, several provinces stopped using it more than a week ago pending further research.

The province said new data indicates the benefits far outweigh the risk with second doses, with one in 600,000 people developing the rare blood clotting disorder.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2020.

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