MONTREAL -- Quebec has announced it will no longer offer the AstraZeneca vaccine as a first dose.

The decision is based on the recommendations of the Quebec Immunization Committee, according to a Health Ministry press release.

The government notes that almost all of the available doses in Quebec have been used up in recent weeks. People aged 45 and over were able to get vaccinated with AstraZeneca's product at the end of April, before the age group was officially opened.

The vaccine was not offered to anyone younger than 45 years old.

An additional 148,000 doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine are scheduled to be delivered next week. Those doses will be reserved as second doses for people who received the CoviShield or AstraZeneca vaccine as a first dose.

The Ministry recommends that people above the age of 45 years and older who received the AstraZeneca vaccine as the first dose receive the same vaccine for the second dose.

However, people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine as a first dose may still choose to receive the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine as a second dose if they prefer.

The health ministry notes that recently published data on people who received two different types of vaccines indicated they are likely to experience more side effects in the days following the second dose, such as fever, headache and fatigue.

Developing a specific type of blood clots (thrombosis) is considered to be a possible complication of AstraZeneca's vaccine, but remains very rare, at about one in every 100,000 vaccines given as a first dose. With the second dose, the rate is even lower, at one in 1,000,000, the ministry says.

One woman in Quebec died of thrombosis after receiving a dose of AstraZeneca's vaccine last April.

In Quebec City, appointments for a first dose of AstraZeneca that were scheduled for Thursday will be cancelled. Authorities said details for those who want an mRNA vaccine as a second dose will be announced at a later date.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2021.