Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending a pause on AstraZeneca vaccinations for people under 55 for safety reasons, while 1.5M doses of the vaccine are due to arrive from the U.S. on Tuesday.
During a press conference, Dr. Shelley Deeks, the vice-chair of NACI, said that with “substantial uncertainty” around cases of vaccine-induced thrombocytopenia (VIPIT) in people with low platelets, and the committee is recommending the suspension of shots in all people under 55 as a “precautionary measure.”
So far, around 300,000 AstraZeneca doses have been administered in Canada already, with no reports of blood clots. Post-vaccination blood clots manifested most notably in younger women.
According to the Montreal Gazette, “Health Canada is demanding that AstraZeneca do a detailed study on the risks and benefits of its COVID-19 vaccine across multiple age groups after getting more reports that patients in Europe developed blood clots following vaccination.”
Monday, Quebec suspended the use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in anyone aged 55 or younger in light of new advice from the national immunization council, calling the move a precautionary measure:
“The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is examining a potential link between the vaccine and blood clotting in the brain, as well as other bleeding disorders.” While “the EMA still considers this product to be safe and effective,” Quebec public health said the possibility of a link “cannot be completely ruled out at this time.”
“Very rare cases have occurred within weeks of receiving AstraZeneca vaccine in some European countries, the majority in women under 55 years of age,” read the release.
“However, it is not possible to determine at this stage whether the events are related to the person's gender.”
Newfoundland and Labrador also suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for persons under the age of 55, according to NTV:
“Effective immediately, provincial public health officials are advising that the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be paused for adults under age 55. This decision is based on new guidelines from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which sites European reports of rare instances of pro-thrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT) in people four to 20 days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine”
At the same time, P.E.I.’s government announced it would halt use of the vaccine for people aged 18 to 29. P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, made the announcement Monday afternoon in a livestreamed update.
By early afternoon, British Columbia’s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, announced the suspension of AstraZeneca vaccinations for the under 55 demographic during a livestream, while at the same time handing down a new slate of increased restrictions on B.C. businesses and schools.