Canadian panel recommends provinces ‘pause’ AZ vaccine for under 55-year-olds

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Following new National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) guidelines, Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo yesterday announced that Canada is pausing the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to adults under age 55 “pending further risks-benefits analysis.” The vaccine remains available for people 55 years old and above.

The recommendation says: “Rare cases of serious blood clots, including cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, associated with thrombocytopenia have been recently reported in Europe following post-licensure use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.” The European Medicines Agency (EMA) persists in its claim that the vaccine’s “benefits still outweigh the risks despite possible link to rare blood clots with low platelets.”

“Anyone receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine should be informed of this potential adverse event and advised to seek immediate medical attention if they develop symptoms of thromboembolism and/or thrombocytopenia between days 4 and 20 following receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“Symptoms to be vigilant for include: shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain, neurological symptoms including sudden onset of severe or persistent worsening headaches or blurred vision, skin bruising (other than at the site of vaccination) or petechiae.”

“Health Canada has issued what they call terms and conditions to obtain more information from AstraZeneca about the risk-benefit profile, and what this might mean to people here in British Columbia and in Canada,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.

“If you have received the AstraZeneca vaccine, and it’s more than 20 days since you’ve received it, there is no concerns,” Henry said. “If you have received the AstraZeneca vaccine and you develop symptoms that are concerning such as headaches or swelling, and we have a list of those symptoms on the BCCDC website. You can seek medical attention.”

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