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With 300,000 AstraZeneca doses set to expire April 2, will provinces use them up?

Amid growing questions and concerns around the use of the AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, several provinces say they remain on track to administer all the remaining doses that are set to expire on Friday.

On March 3, Canada received an initial shipment of 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine – under the brand name COVISHIELD – manufactured at the Serum Institute of India. While a total of 300,000 of those doses have an expiry date of April 2, the rest are good to use until the end of June.

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At least six provinces told Global News that they will be able to reach their goal of using the AstraZeneca doses before the expiry date this week. However, Ontario, B.C. and Newfoundland and Labrador did not respond to a request from Global News by the time of publication.

Click to play video: COVID-19: Trudeau says AstraZeneca pause was coordination of experts, says focus is keeping Canadians safe

On Monday, all 10 provinces pressed pause on the vaccine’s use for people under the age of 55 in accordance with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s (NACI) recommendation relating to reports of blood clots in Europe.

So far, approximately 307,000 AstraZeneca doses have been administered across the country, Canada’s top doctor Theresa Tam said on Tuesday.

Before NACI’s shift in guidance, the vast majority of provinces were targeting age groups over 55, she added.

No AstraZeneca doses have been allocated to the three northern territories, where only the Moderna vaccine is being rolled out.

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Both Alberta and Prince Edward Island have used all doses that are set to expire in April, the provincial governments confirmed to Global News on Tuesday. Alberta has so far received 58,500 AstraZeneca vaccine doses from the federal government.

Meanwhile, P.E.I. has administered approximately 1,700 doses in total. Its remaining supply of 300 AstraZeneca doses expire in early June, according to the island’s Chief Public Health Office.

In Quebec, as of Monday, some 2,000 doses — out of the total of 113,000 received — were left to be administered across the province.

“All these vaccines are therefore on track to be administered by April 2,” a spokesperson at the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) said in French.

Click to play video: How are you affected by the AstraZeneca guideline changes? Doctor answers your COVID-19 vaccination questions

In Manitoba, more than 14,000 of the 18,000 allocated doses had already been administered as of March 29.

“AstraZeneca is being distributed via 190 medical clinics and pharmacies. We are confident our medical partners will be able to hit the goal of 18,000 doses,” a provincial spokesperson told Global News.

In Saskatchewan, AstraZeneca doses have primarily been used at a drive-thru clinic in Regina for residents aged 58 and above. Of the 15,500 doses allocated, fewer than 100 doses are left to be used in the province, the ministry of health said in a press release on Monday.

“Some residents younger than 55 would have received AstraZeneca including eligible health-care workers and vaccinators, though no thrombosis-like adverse events have been reported in Saskatchewan to date,” the statement added.

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As of Tuesday, New Brunswick had administered more than 7,500 doses with 6,000 left to be used before the end of the week. The province expects “all of the expiring doses to be used in time,” Shawn Berry, a spokesperson for the department of health, said.

Nova Scotia has been offering its supply to those aged 60 to 64. All appointments for 13,000 doses are fully booked, Tracy Barron, the department of health and wellness spokesperson, told Global News on Tuesday. “Once we complete these appointments, we’ll have information on how many doses were used,” Barron added.

Click to play video: Alberta joins other provinces in halting AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for people under 55

Separately, Canada was slated to receive 1.5 million AstraZeneca doses from the United States on Tuesday.

An additional 4.4 million doses are also expected to arrive by the end of June, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said during a news conference on Tuesday.

In total, Canada has purchased 20 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine — enough to vaccinate 10 million Canadians.

Canada will also start receiving shipments of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot COVID-19 vaccine at the end of April, Anand confirmed on Tuesday.

–With files from Global News’ Nicole Gibillini 

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