Messaging from B.C's top doc changes to 'informed choice' on AstraZeneca | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Messaging from B.C's top doc changes to 'informed choice' on AstraZeneca

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May 18, 2021 - 10:27 AM

B.C.'s top doctor is no longer saying that the best vaccine for all British Columbians is the one in front of them.

Following the province's decision to stop offering first doses of AstraZeneca, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said those waiting for their booster shot will soon get all the "information they need to make an informed choice" about what they want for round two.

"We have kept somewhere in the vicinity about 20,000 doses (of AstraZeneca) and it is good until the end of June," she said, adding that all of the May expiry-date supply has been used in B.C.

Those who have waited the 12 weeks that are required between doses to ensure the immune system is well primed will then be given the option of receiving a second dose of AstraZeneca.

"I know that's very important for many people," she said. "They chose to receive AstraZeneca, because of the way the vaccine is produced and, and the effectiveness that we've seen from this important vaccine in other places."

Of course, for many, it wasn't so much a choice as a directive to get what was on hand when it was made available.

On March 2, Dr. Henry said: “Let me be very clear, the vaccine you are offered is the best vaccine" urging the public that when the time comes for your turn at vaccination, don’t wait. “I would not suggest people wait. These vaccines are all good and they all work, and we’ve seen that across the world."

Now, however, she said there will be more information in the next few weeks, to give everybody, all of the information they need to make an informed choice about what they wish to receive for their second dose.

The results from immunogenicity studies that were done in the UK and other places, are expected in the next coupled of weeks and they will offer a better understanding of whether there is the same or better protection from receiving the AstraZeneca first, and then a Pfizer vaccine second, she said.

"So I ask people to be patient — we know that we have some time as your immune system is developing its protective response to your first dose, you will have the options of receiving the second dose of AstraZeneca, and we have stocks coming in to be able to support that," she said. "Or you can take the information once we have it, and make your own decision about what you want for your second dose. So I just want to reassure people that we have not forgotten, and we will be providing the information as soon as we get it to help you make those decisions."

As more vaccine is made available to British Columbians, insight into whether vaccine hesitancy will be a problem is sure to come.

"We know now that over 70% of people 50 and over have been immunized so we are seeing that people in British Columbia want this," she said. "But yes, there's a lot of people who may not know, or may not be paying attention, or may not think this applies to them."

So, she said, health officials are looking at how to reach out with their "it's our shot" ad campaign. Reaching out through workplaces has been successful and frontline workers have also been spreading the word that "yes, you are somebody who will benefit from vaccine, not just for your own personal protection, but to protect your family and your community."

Dr. Henry said people should expect to see more of that messaging and making it easy, removing those barriers to getting registered and getting into a clinic.

"That people really don't want vaccine right now seems to be a small percentage from what we're hearing from people," she said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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