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HKPR’s top doctor provides an update on COVID-19 vaccine situations

DAN CEARNS, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, for The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: Vaccine news was again a hot topic during a media scrum with Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit’s (HKPR) Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Natalie Bocking, on Wednesday, May 12th.

Increasing vaccine supply allows the health unit to expand the number of vaccine clinics throughout this month and next month. “We are planning, and have made available, more mass immunization clinics throughout our three geographic regions, and we’re going to continue to do so,” Dr. Bocking stated.

On Tuesday, May 11th, provincial officials announced there will be a pause on first dose administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine. “This decision was made out of an abundance of caution due to an observed increase in the rare blood clotting condition, known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine,” a provincial press release explained.

Dr. Bocking said there are solutions for people who were scheduled to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“[For] those individuals who had an appointment with their primary care providers to receive [the] AstraZeneca [vaccine], the other vaccine types are going to start to be offered. Moderna will be offered through primary care, so if an individual had an appointment booked to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, then they will either be able to keep that appointment but receive a different type of vaccine or be able to rebook quite shortly.”

She added pharmacies in the area might be able to offer the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by the end of this month.

Dr. Bocking also doesn’t want people who received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to worry about their second dose.

“People who received their first dose of AstraZeneca, will be able to get a second dose of vaccine. What we don’t know for sure right now is which vaccine that will be. It is possible right now, the province, in their further assessments, will decide to stop the pause on AstraZeneca. Then AstraZeneca would be offered for second doses. The other possibility is people may be offered a different vaccine for their second dose. The country is waiting to see some of the evidence coming out of the United Kingdom, [which] has been using different vaccines for first and second doses, to guide us in what advice we should be giving people,” she explained.

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