News release

Nova Scotia to Receive AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine

Nova Scotia will receive an initial 13,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine next week. It is the third COVID-19 vaccine approved for use by Health Canada.

Doctors Nova Scotia and the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia will be handling the launch of the new doses.

The government’s decision to take the doses came after thoughtful consideration about the way in which it would be rolled out to Nova Scotians, and assurances that our delivery of these vaccines would not impact the target from the main vaccine program.

“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,” said Premier Iain Rankin. “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. 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.”

Yesterday, Premier Rankin directed Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, 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.

This shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine must be used by April 2. As a result, all 13,000 doses will be administered as first doses starting the week of March 15 to Nova Scotians between the age of 50-64 at 26 locations across the province. It is 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 Scotian’s from COVID-19,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Medical Officer of Health.

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is given on a two-dose schedule. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends offering this vaccine to people between the ages 18 to 64.

Unlike Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccines, which are both mRNA vaccines and are more than 90 per cent effective against COVID-19, the AstraZeneca vaccine is the first viral-vector-based approved COVID-19 vaccine in Canada and based on clinical trials is 62 per cent effective.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends that higher efficacy vaccines should be offered to those who are most at risk of severe disease and exposure in order to reduce hospitalizations, deaths and to limit the worsening of health inequities.

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 AstraZeneca viral-vector-based vaccine also don’t use the virus that causes COVID-19, but a different, harmless virus that triggers an immune response.

Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines require cold or ultra-low cold storage, while the AstraZeneca vaccine can be transported and stored between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius, similar to standard flu vaccine.

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