Manitoba health officials say there are no immediate plans to administer early second doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, despite the risk of some doses being thrown out because of expiry dates.
Some doses of the vaccine are set to expire in May, while others will expire in June.
During Wednesday’s vaccine briefing, Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province’s vaccine task force, said pharmacists and physicians would be able to administer the vaccines to people on a case-by-case basis.
“There’s no hard rule that says that the pharmacists and physicians can’t offer doses, according to the manufacturer’s guidelines within Health Canada’s approval, and we have been working with them to provide them with the best clinical guidance about how to use them to have the best possible outcome,” she said.
Reimer said the original plan was for all second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be given after 12 weeks for maximum virus protection.
However, based on current vaccine deliveries, nobody who has been given the AstraZeneca vaccine currently has met the 12-week mark.
“There are unique circumstances where people may benefit earlier from a second dose,” Reimer said. “So, the clinicians do have the ability to do an individual assessment and make a case-by-case determination.”
Reimer said the number of vaccines that could expire before being administered is not known because of the way vaccine data is entered.
Currently, Manitoba plans for people to receive a second dose of the same vaccine they received for the first dose.
Reimer said additional guidance from the province on the second dose for AstraZeneca is expected this week.