Quebecers who have received a shot of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine will be able to get a second dose sooner than expected — eight weeks after the first one.
As an example, Health Minister Christian Dubé said anyone who received their first dose prior to April 3 can get the second dose as early as this weekend. The vaccine will be made available at walk-in clinics.
The province initially planned on providing the second doses 12 weeks after the first shot, not eight.
The change is based on a recommendation from the province’s immunization committee (CIQ). Dubé said the most recent data shows that the drop in the second shot’s efficacy is “marginal” if it is taken at the eight-week mark.
“If you want to wait for the full twelve weeks, you can do that, that would be the best advice,” Dubé told reporters Thursday.
“If someone said ‘I want to clear this and get my second dose’, I say ‘let’s do it.'”
The Clic Santé website is being updated to allow people to find out where they can go get their second shot, he said.
The province currently has 150,000 doses of AstraZeneca on hand, the minister said. Roughly half a million Quebecers have received a shot of that vaccine.
Dubé said he expects another delivery by the end next week, and he’s confident that anyone who wants to receive the vaccine for their second dose will be able to do so.
Research suggests the chances of severe blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine are much smaller after the second dose compared to the first.
Those who received AstraZeneca will also have the option of getting another vaccine for their second dose.
The minister reiterated, however, that people who opt for a different vaccine the second time around may experience more serious cases of fatigue, headaches and fever.
WATCH | Health minister says Quebecers can receive second AstraZeneca shot more quickly
Moving up second dose for other vaccines
Dubé said those who received other vaccines for their first dose will likely be able to move up their second dose starting June 7, and the rescheduling will be based on priority groups.
The province is expected to unveil a schedule next week. It should outline the specific dates on which people from certain groups are eligible to go and look for a sooner appointment.
“This is a lot of work for Clic Santé,” Dubé said.
The minister also provided an update on the vaccination campaign.
While the province’s rate of vaccination is climbing quickly, but he would like for 75 per cent of people between the ages of 18 and 40 receive their first dose, before the province moves on to managing second doses.
“I’d like to remind young people, the 18-40 year olds, to not hesitate to make an appointment in the coming days,” Dubé said.
“We still have the objective that all age groups should at least be at 75 per cent.”