Pause of first doses of AstraZeneca/COVIDSHIELD Update

May 12, 2021

In This Issue:

  • Pause of first doses of AstraZeneca/COVIDSHIELD Update
  • mRNA Vaccines in Primary Care
  • Ontario Matching Portal
  • COVID-19 vaccination clinic workflow and mass upload tips & tricks
  • Community of Practice: Primary Care Participation
  • COVID@Home
  • A Big Thank You!

Dear Members,

You have probably already heard that the Ontario government announced on May 11th that primary care and pharmacy are to pause on the further use of the AstraZeneca (AZ)/COVISHIELD COVID-19 vaccines as first doses to eligible individuals. This announcement was made out of an abundance of caution and after carefully reviewing cases of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), linked to the AZ vaccine. For the full Ministry announcement please click here.

There are still so many unknowns around next steps, including if those who received first dose AZ will be eligible to receive a second dose of AZ at a shortened interval if they have certain health conditions or are nearing the mark when they are due for their second dose. We are awaiting direction from the Ministry of Health about what to do and will send information as soon as it is available.

In the meantime, here are two immediate things you should do if you are administering AZ in your office:

  • Please keep any remaining AZ vaccines in your fridge and safe. More details are coming from the MOH about how these vaccines will be returned or if they can be used with certain populations.
  • Please ensure any patients booked to receive AZ are cancelled. They should be rescheduled to receive a mRNA vaccine when these are available.

And for many of you who may be getting anxious calls from your patients, here are two documents you can adapt for your practice:

  • Clinic message developed by the Ontario College of Family Physicians that you can send by letter/email to your patients
  • Email developed by Dr. Noah Ivers at Women’s College Hospital that you can also send to patients that have received first dose AZ in your clinics

Now more than ever, primary care has a critical role to play to strengthen confidence in vaccination. Here are some additional resources you may find helpful:

mRNA Vaccines in Primary Care

  • Along with other primary care associations, we have been calling for the use of mRNA (Pfizer and Moderna) vaccines in primary care.
  • The province is receiving an increase of Moderna vaccines and by the end of May 60,000 doses of this mRNA vaccine are expected to be delivered across all 34 public health units which will then be provided to primary care settings.
  • The allocation to the public health units is based on per capita population and hot spot areas.
    Do you have any experience with mRNA vaccines in your clinics? We want to hear from you, especially if you have given the Pfizer vaccine so we can highlight the successes in primary care and advocate for more mRNA vaccines in primary care!
    Medical Officers of Health will continue to make decisions around which primary care sites will receive the vaccine to administer and we will provide you updates as they become available.  If you are having trouble connecting with your PHU please let us know and we can try to facilitate.
  • We hope this is a first step, and we will continue to advocate for an expanded role for more primary care practices to be included in the vaccination rollout. We know there are still many patients who need the vaccine who have yet to receive it. And we know we are in the best position in primary care to identify these patients.

Ontario Matching Portal
The Ontario Matching Portal (OMP) was created during Wave I to match employers with job seekers interested in supporting the pandemic response. Initially developed to support redeployment of volunteers and health care professionals to Long-Term Care facilities, the portal has now been extended to support the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. With an expansion of use, all health care organizations can now register to use OMP as part of a comprehensive health human resources (HHR) strategy for the COVID-19 vaccination effort. With over 6,023 people who have signed up to support vaccination across the province, your team can register as an organization and access volunteers to help with administration or health care providers to support vaccination within your teams. To learn more see:

We are talking to the Ministry about hopefully hosting a webinar/didactic walk-through of the Portal for our teams but in the meantime, please let us know if you have any questions.  

COVID-19 vaccination clinic workflow and mass upload tips & tricks
As we had noted in this week’s Bits & Pieces newsletter, we are pleased to have launched two new resources for teams to help with workflow in their clinics. As teams move from pilot COVID-19 vaccination clinics to mass vaccination clinics, drive-thru vaccination clinics and in-clinic vaccinations, we have put together a document geared towards the Super User, with some tips and tricks. With a big thank you to Windsor FHT, Hamilton FHT, Upper Grand FHT, London FHT and many more this document summarizes some of the lessons learned. 

We have also put together a Mass Client Upload Workflow document in collaboration with the QI in PC Council, with tips and tricks for data extraction, manipulation, and upload.You can also read more in last week's eBulletin.

Community of Practice: Primary Care Participation
Just a reminder that you can join the Primary Care Vaccine Quality Improvement Support Group Webinar Series Community of Practice being led by Ontario Health in partnership with the Primary Care Collaborative and OMA. This CoP covers very practical tips and suggestions on how to set up your vaccination sites as we look at further primary care sites participating in vaccination.

You would have received an email from the Ministry today with a reminder about the COVID@Home program. As we are still waiting for answers to some of our questions from our April 23rd COVID@Home webinar, just a reminder that Ontario Health is providing tools and resources for COVID@Home to interprofessional primary care teams.

COVID@Home aims to help primary care providers and interprofessional teams to remotely monitor their patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 in the community safely. If you have an already existing remote monitoring program in your region, please continue to support those local efforts – this program is to help address any gaps that may be in existence.

Information about COVID@Home, including clinical and escalation pathways, can be found here and the following link will enable you to order oxygen saturation monitors at no cost. Ontario Health is holding Community of Practice meetings Wednesday mornings from 8:00 am – 9:00 am if you would like to learn more, ask questions, and hear from teams doing this work. You can register for the meeting series and attend as able.

A Big Thank You!
We know how hard primary care worked to get as many #NeedlesInArms over the last few months and the tremendous amount of work that goes into counselling and educating your patients before vaccinating. Thank you for all that you do and please let us know what is going on in your team so we can highlight when we meet with government.

We look forward to continually updating you on the provincial vaccination strategy. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or ideas.

Yours in good health,

The AFHTO Team