Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine she has provided to customers April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine she has provided to customers April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

AstraZeneca vaccine can be given to adults 30 and older, NACI recommends

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization provided the update in a briefing Friday

A national advisory panel has recommended Canadians 30 and older can get the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine if they don’t want to wait for an alternative, but some provinces say they don’t have enough supply to expand eligibility for the shot.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization provided the updated advice in a briefing on Friday.

The committee initially recommended a pause on using AstraZeneca shots for people younger than 55 out of an abundance of caution after reports of rare and treatable blood clots.

Health Canada released a safety assessment last week that showed the benefits of the shot outweigh the risks, which the committee said it also evaluated.

The committee said the clots are rare, and people have an individual choice if they would rather wait to take the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

“What we want is to vaccinate Canadians as quickly as possible,” said committee chairwoman Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh.

“However, if you are in an area where there is no COVID transmission, if you have no contacts with the outside, or if you’re able to shelter through public health measures, then there is a possibility to wait for the mRNA vaccine.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines use messenger RNA, or mRNA, to trigger an immune response, unlike AstraZeneca, which is a viral-vector vaccine that delivers a safe virus to teach the body to protect against COVID-19.

Although provinces initially suspended giving AstraZeneca shots to younger people based on the committee’s previous advice, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia have since started administering it to people over 40, given the current spread of the virus. Quebec is offering the shot to those over 45.

Ontario reported its first case on Friday of a rare blood clot in a man in his 60s who received the vaccine, bringing the number of reported cases in Canada to four out of more than 1.1 million doses given, according to the province’s top doctor.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, received the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday.

A spokeswoman for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province welcomes the recommendation and looks forward to receiving future shipments of AstraZeneca, which will allow it to begin vaccinating more people in younger age groups.

“With approximately 337,000 doses remaining and future shipments not expected until May, we will continue to administer AstraZeneca to individuals 40 and over in pharmacies and primary care settings until we receive additional supply,” said Alexandra Hilkene in a statement.

“As we continue to fight COVID-19, we are doing everything possible to get as many vaccines into arms as quickly and safely as possible.”

New Brunswick’s chief medical health officer said that province won’t receive any more AstraZeneca doses until the end of May and for now will keep offering it to people 55 and older.

A spokeswoman said Newfoundland and Labrador doesn’t have immediate plans to change its advice about the shot, while a representative in Nova Scotia said it would take time to review NACI’s guidance in context of a local factors including supply.

Manitoba will also take time to review NACI’s advice, which it said was not a “blanket recommendation” of using this vaccine for all people aged 30 and older, a spokeswoman said in a statement.

“Eligibility for AstraZenca will remain at 40 and over until further notice,” the statement said.

The national advisory committee was minutes away from making an announcement about AstraZeneca on Tuesday when it abruptly cancelled. On Friday, the panel confirmed that it had planned to release the updated recommendation earlier in the week but delayed doing so after receiving additional provincial data.

Quach-Thanh suggested the changing advice on AstraZeneca — which was based on new data coming in, but left some Canadians feeling confused — has influenced its decision to wait on releasing a recommendation on how the single-shot Johnson & Johnson should be used, which is set to arrive towards the next of next week in 300,000 doses. The United States paused the use of the vaccine last week after six cases of rare blood clots.

“You guys all told us, ‘Why didn’t you wait to see the other data before putting out your recommendation (on AstraZeneca)?’ Because we wanted to be so quick and nimble that we put out a recommendation as quickly as we could,” said Quach-Thanh.

“We try to learn from our previous mishaps and this time around seeing that we wouldn’t have the Johnson product in use before early May, we still have two weeks to wait on new data to be able to put out the most up to date version as possible.”

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said last week that Canada still expects to receive 4.1 million doses of AstraZeneca from all sources by the end of June.

Anand provided an update Friday about how many more vaccine doses are coming to Canada, which didn’t include AstraZeneca, although talks continue with the United States about possibly receiving some of their supply.

She said the country can expect to receive around one million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech early next week and 650,000 doses of Moderna by mid-week.

Anand said to date, 13.7 million vaccine doses have landed in Canada and around 27 per cent of Canadians have received a first dose.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusvaccines

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Spout Lake Road and the many potholes. (Barbara Hansen photo - submitted)
Lac La Hache experiences flooding, potholes

Barbara Hansen: Lac La Hache happenings

Taralynn Leclair with her kids Juliette, 4, and Jaxson, 6, juggles home, work and the family hobby farm. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Moms rule home, hearth and farm

Women hold down the farm while their husbands go off to work

FILE PHOTO
Second doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be available, as AstraZeneca supply runs low: Interior Health

Province expecting large volumes of Pfizer BioNTech as age-based cohort immunization program ramps up

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes shared this photo of the binders and binders of letters and paperwork she’s received on area roads in the past few years. (Submitted photo)
Cariboo MLAs call on province to fix region’s roads

Minister Rob Fleming said more resources were on the way to the region

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Most Read