This has left many of the 280,000 British Columbians who received the AstraZeneca vaccine curious, and in some cases frustrated, as to what will happen next.
Here are some answers to questions about the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Our advice has not changed”: Dr Bonnie Henry on second dose of AstraZeneca in British Columbia
If I received AstraZeneca as the first dose, should I receive AstraZeneca as the second dose?
British Columbia is not adopting NACI guidelines and said British Columbians can always make a personal choice for a mixed schedule or two doses of AstraZeneca.
“The very real world evidence shows us that we have good protection at all levels with both vaccines in our community,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC Provincial Health Officer.
Henry says British Columbia is advising people to make the right choice for them, adding that all vaccines in British Columbia are “safe and very effective, as are all the options.”
“We always know, from the information we see here in British Columbia, but also mainly in the UK, where a lot of AstraZeneca has been used, that the efficacy of the vaccine is very good for both. AstraZeneca and mRNA vaccines, ”said Henry.
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Why did NACI change its advice?
The science around COVID-19 vaccines has evolved and changed as more and more studies are conducted. This latest shift in focus is based on preliminary data from a German study that showed that people who received an mRNA vaccine after one dose of AstraZeneca had immune markers as good or better than those who received two. doses of AstraZeneca.
But Henry was quick to note that this was a very small study that adds to the information we know.
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What benefits could an mRNA vaccine provide as a second dose?
Health officials say both vaccination approaches are very effective, but mixing an mRNA after a dose of AstraZeneca can give the immune system a boost.
What is still unknown is whether this translates into better protection.
What British Columbia and the rest of the world still don’t know is whether the little extra antibody or the cell-mediated response translates to better protection in the real world.
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How many AstraZeneca do we have in British Columbia?
According to the BC CDC Dashboard, a total of 339,839 doses of AstraZeneca have been administered in the province. That’s out of the 438,000 AstraZeneca vaccines that have been delivered to British Columbia
There are 34,000 more doses on the way. The province said anyone who received AstraZeneca as their first dose will be able to get it as their second dose. So far, about half of those who have received AstraZeneca as the first dose have received it as the second dose while the other half have switched to the mRNA vaccine.
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If I have already received two doses of AstraZeneca, can I get an mRNA as a third dose now?
British Columbia sees no evidence that obtaining an mRNA vaccine soon after receiving two doses of AstraZeneca will be necessary or that it provides an additional benefit.
In the UK, the vaccine’s efficacy after two doses of AstraZeneca was exactly the same as after two doses of mRNA vaccines.
Henry and health officials around the world are trying to find out if any boosters will be needed in the fall.
“It may be months from now that we will see that immunity wanes with either combination of vaccines, and it may wane with all of them,” Henry said.
“There are studies going on in the UK and here in Canada, the US, also looking at intervals. People who received the vaccine at a shorter interval may need a booster dose sooner. “
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When the border opens, will I be able to travel to the United States where the vaccine is not approved for use?
British Columbia expects vaccines approved by the World Health Organization to be the standard someone will have to meet.
AstraZeneca is approved by the WHO.
The expectation is that the mix and match will also be approved for international travel, but that has not been determined.
“These are details that are always evolving,” said Henry.
“We don’t know the answers to everything yet, but we have heard, at least from my colleagues in the United States, that AstraZeneca will be one of the vaccine combinations they will endorse. “
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If you are traveling to the United States and received a double dose of AstraZeneca, will you be able to do the same things as those who were vaccinated with a vaccine approved in the United States?
So far SSaturday night live, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Springsteen à Broadway have announced that fans will not be allowed in if they are immune with AstraZeneca. Guests must be fully immunized with a vaccine approved in the United States.
But the expectation of BC health officials is that this will change as the number of COVID-19 cases declines and international travel is encouraged. Ultimately, companies will have the flexibility to choose how they set vaccination policies for admission.
“I understand that it was the concert hall itself that made these decisions for reasons that I am not aware of,” said Henry.
“We expect this to be the standard set by the WHO that allows us to have a measurable standard worldwide, and all vaccines approved for use here in Canada and all combinations are also approved. by the WHO. “
If you received AstraZeneca as the first dose, how long should you wait to receive an mRNA vaccine as the second dose?
There is still no solid information on which interval is best for you.
Henry said Thursday there was no evidence to say that an eight week gap is better than 10 weeks, or 10 weeks is better than 12 weeks, or 12 weeks is better than eight weeks.
BC wants to reassure people who have up to 16 weeks between doses that there is data showing that it is just as good.
The body does not lose its immunity in this short period of time.
“I would have liked it to be black and white, but what we can say is that we don’t know what the optimal interval is yet, but there is more and more evidence and I think that most of us would agree that the short three to four week interval that has been used in clinical trials is probably not the optimal interval, ”said Henry.
“And we don’t know yet about other rounds of vaccines against viruses like hepatitis and the like. It’s actually better, longer lasting if you get it for about six months, but we haven’t had those shots in that time yet to be able to find out how long the immunity lasts. “