Nova Scotia has decided to receive its first shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Next week, the province will get 13,000 doses of the third COVID-19 vaccine approved for use by Health Canada.
They don’t have a long shelf life and must be used by April 2.
Because of that, even though it is a two dose vaccine, the province announced today it plans to administer all of the supply as first doses. They will be going into the arms of Nova Scotians between the ages of 50 and 64 at 26 locations throughout the province on a first-come, first-served basis.
Earlier this week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended the Oxford-AstraZeneca only be used for people between the ages of 18 and 64.
“AstraZeneca is different than the two vaccines we’re using now,” explained the province’s chief medical officer of health at Tuesday’s briefing. “The Pfizer-BioNtech and the Moderna are mRNA vaccines, which have been shown to be 94 to 95 per cent effective in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 illness.”
“The AstraZeneca is slightly different. It’s called a viral-vector vaccine and it’s been shown to be about 62 per cent effective against preventing symptomatic illness.”
Because of that, Dr. Robert Strang said it won’t be used for any group considered to be a high risk for severe disease and/or exposure.
Unlike the mRNA vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine does contain a virus, however the province says it isn’t the one that causes COVID-19. It’s a “different, harmless virus that triggers an immune response.”
The vaccine also doesn’t need the cold or ultra-low cold storage that the other two require. It can be stored between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius, which is similar to the standard flu vaccine.
Doctors Nova Scotia and the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia will be handling the launch.
“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,” said Premier Iain Rankin in a news release. “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.”