‘It’s extremely stressful’: Manitobans wait in limbo for more AstraZeneca doses

Just over a year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Manitoba, Cari Goncalves was diagnosed with cancer.

In July 2019, she received a stem cell transplant as part of her treatment for multiple myeloma. It was a procedure that put her on the former Priority 1 list for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in March 2021.

“Of course, I jumped all over that opportunity,” she said.

Goncalves had her first dose of the vaccine on March 17 and is now in the long line of Manitobans aged 40 and over waiting for their second shot.

It’s recommended AstraZeneca recipients wait 12 weeks between each vaccination, however, some could receive it earlier.

Read more: 10-week gap between AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots unlikely to impact effectiveness: expert

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During a vaccine technical briefing Wednesday morning, task force implementation lead Dr. Joss Reimer said people could speak with a pharmacist or physician who could prioritize them sooner after an assessment.

After Goncalves spoke with her doctors about potentially getting her second dose two weeks sooner, they decided it wouldn’t be in her best interest.

“I have trusted my doctors in my cancer treatment all along, why would I not trust them with this?” she said.

A recent study out of the United Kingdom found that lengthening AstraZeneca’s dosing interval to 12 weeks or more was more effective against COVID-19 than administering the doses six weeks apart.

Goncalves said efficacy was her main concern given her weakened immune system due to her cancer treatment, but now she’s wondering if a second dose will even be available.

The province said Saturday it has roughly 4,600 doses of AstraZeneca, with 3,000 set to expire at the end of May — two days away.

Today, Health Canada said the expiry date of two lots of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been extended from May 31 to July 1.

Read more: Safe to extend AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine expiry date by 1 more month: experts

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The province was unable to provide a response Saturday on how this will affect Manitoba.

Before today’s announcement, Goncalves said she was putting in her own leg work in search of answers.

“It’s extremely stressful when I have to call around to Shoppers Drug Marts in the city,” Goncalves said. “All I was trying to find out was what the stockpile is … will there be a vaccine for me come June 10?”

As of May 28, the vaccine task force said an AstraZeneca shipment is being held until “early” June, leaving Goncalves and many other Manitobans in limbo.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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