1st case of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine related death confirmed in Ontario

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As two-thirds of Torontonians have their first COVID-19 shots, and with the province at large not far behind, calls are growing louder for Ontario to start pushing up the timeline for second doses, especially for the most vulnerable.

Dr. Barbara Yaffee, Ontario's Associated Medical Officer of Health, today confirmed the man's death which occurred just weeks after receiving his first doze of AstraZeneca near the end of April.

"While the investigation is ongoing and a final cause of death has yet to be officially determined, it has been confirmed that the individual did have VITT at the time of his death", Yaffe said Tuesday.

Data from the United Kingdom suggests a much-reduced risk of VITT in second doses of AstraZeneca.

She had earlier been given the AstraZeneca vaccines.

Val Logan, 60, says she called the Toronto pharmacy where she got her first shot to ensure she was on a waitlist for the second dose but was directed to call another location to make her appointment. He adds it would be ideal if Ontarians waited 12 weeks between AstraZeneca shots, as research has shown waiting three months between shots boosts the body's immune response.

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Local media said the woman, who had no history of thrombi in her vascular system, had received her first dose of the vaccine on May 6, the same day British authorities had announced people under the age of 40 in the United Kingdom were to be offered an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. I'll be honest and say I'd be slightly concerned that we minimise the level of changes, unless there's a very clear public health argument in favour of it because the vaccination programme really is working now, ' said Mr Ryan.

Ontario is no longer offering AstraZeneca as a first dose but will administer it as a second shot as the risk of developing the side effect is much lower, around 1 in 600,000.

Yaffe said those who received a first dose of AstraZeneca made the right choice.

Another 10,000 doses of AstraZeneca expire next month and the province has more than 300,000 doses in stock. "I want to take this opportunity to reiterate that those who received AstraZeneca vaccine should feel very confident in their decision". "The good point is that we have lots of people who are eager to get their second doses".

A spokeswoman for the health minister said many pharmacies and doctors would reach out to patients directly, and asked people to only contact participating pharmacies listed on the province's booking website.

Provincial officials have also aknowledged that demand could outpace supply at first but say that those who do not get an appointment immediately will still be given a chance to recieve their second doses as additional shipments arrive.

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