Nova Scotia’s first 13,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses allocated to residents ages 50 to 64
HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia will be receiving 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine next week.
It's the third shot to be approved for use by Health Canada.
"We are pleased that conversations with Doctors Nova Scotia and the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia have resulted in a commitment from them to develop a plan by next week to distribute this vaccine to Nova Scotians," Premier Iain Rankin said in a news release Wednesday.
"This vaccine provides another tool in our fight against COVID-19 and builds on the roll-out that is already underway in our province as we work to vaccinate all Nova Scotians."
According to government officials, the 13,000 doses must be used by April 2.
"We have to move fast as we are mindful of the fact that we have a short window to use it given that they will expire in a month," the premier said.
The AstraZeneca doses will be administered as first doses beginning the week of March 15. The vaccine will be administered at 26 locations across the province and is for Nova Scotians between the ages of 50 and 64. The province also says all 13,000 doses will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis.
"I am pleased we're able to offer it as part of our overall effort to protect Nova Scotians from COVID-19," said Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Government officials said the decision to take the doses came after deciding how they would be rolled out in the province without affecting targets set in the main vaccine rollout program.
The government said Strang was directed to "develop a plan to provide the most effective use of the new doses but not detract from the current roll-out in which Nova Scotians over age 80 are receiving vaccinations."
The AstraZeneca vaccine is the first viral-vector-based COVID-19 vaccine approved in Canada and is 62 per cent effective, according to clinical trials.
The Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccines are both mRNA vaccines and are more than 90 per cent effective against COVID-19.
"mRNA vaccines do not contain the COVID-19 virus. Instead, they teach our cells how to create the protein needed to trigger an immune response to protect against infection," the government said. "The AstraZeneca viral-vector-based vaccine also does not use the virus that causes COVID-19, but a different, harmless virus that triggers an immune response."
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine be offered to people between the ages of 18 and 64. They also recommend that higher efficacy vaccines should be offered to those who are most at risk of severe disease and exposure. They say this plan will help reduce hospitalizations, deaths, and limit the worsening of health inequities.
Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines, which require cold or ultra-low cold storage, the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can be transported and stored between two and eight degrees Celsius, which is similar to a standard flu vaccine.
Doctors Nova Scotia and the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia will be handling the launch of the new doses.