Mar 09, 2021

By Jane Brown

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Public health experts in Quebec have decided to dismiss guidance from the Canada’s national vaccine panel and issue the recently approved AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to residents 65 and over.

A news release from Quebec’s vaccine expert committee says “all approved vaccines should be used immediately to prevent deaths and hospitalizations,” adding the AstraZeneca vaccine “provides more flexibility in immunization efforts, especially for people between the ages of 70 and 79.”

The newly approved vaccine has numerous advantages, the Health Department said, including the fact it doesn’t need to be kept frozen and can be used up to 48 hours after a vial is opened. “Its use will also be favoured for (patients) where mobile vaccination is an optimal strategy to reach them – at home, for example.”

Late last month, members of Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended against using the AstraZeneca vaccine for people 65 and older because of insufficient data on its efficacy in older people, but DESPITE approval by Health Canada for adults of all ages.

For now, here in Ontario, the AstraZeneca vaccine will only be given to people 64 and under.

And as planned, the shot will be issue to residents between 60 and 64, in a pilot project at 330 pharmacies in Toronto, Kingston and Windsor starting Friday.

“Pharmacies are going to be utilizing their own booking system, and many have websites where residents can go in Ontario to look at, as well call centres and calling in, and some even utilize mobile applications to make it even more convenient for patients, Ontario Pharmacists Association CEO Justin Bates told Zoomer Radio’s Fight Back with Libby Znaimer, “So we’re going to manage this initially at least through an appointment based model, because we do expect the demand to be quite significant.”

Bates says the list of locations for this project is being finalized, with more information coming in the next day or two.

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