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

Just Posted

The City of Nanaimo has developed concepts for an extension of the Harbourfront Walkway from Departure Bay ferry terminal to Departure Bay Beach. (City of Nanaimo image)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: City hasn’t shown it has capability to build walkway

Is it really a good idea to consider a hyper-expensive, complicated mega-project, asks letter writer

Regional District of Nanaimo directors discussed asking the provincial government for increased funding, awareness and enforcement against human trafficking. (File photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo asking province to better address human trafficking issue

Directors agree to write to the premier and solicitor-general after hearing from advocate

Conductor Willi Zwozdesky and pianist Nico Rhodes led 66 local vocalists in song for the Nanaimo Sings video project Keeping Calm and Singing On. (YouTube screen shot)
Nanaimo Sings virtual performance features 66 vocalists

Fifth Nanaimo Sings festival was to have taken place this year

The bow-legged bear was seen roaming 2nd Avenue on Friday, May 7 and again in Brown Drive Park on May 13. (Submitted photo)
Bow-legged Ladysmith bear euthanized after vet examination

CO Stuart Bates said the bear had obvious health issues

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
UPDATE: Queen presents Nanaimo doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

A driver was taken to hospital after crashing a pickup truck into a tree on Rutherford Road near Bradbury Road on Friday, May 14. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Driver taken to hospital after crashing truck into tree on Rutherford hill in Nanaimo

RCMP investigating incident at Rutherford and Bradbury roads on Friday, May 14

Tamara Cameron, Uplands Park Elementary School music teacher and librarian, students Ben Leduc, second from left, Avery Kojima and Kinley Robson, as well as other music students from the school, will benefit from $8,000 from MusiCounts, for instruments and recording equipment. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Money for new instruments music to ears of Uplands Park school staff and students

Grant from music education charity MusiCounts means students will have more ways to be creative

Sarah Boileau in her home studio on Monday, May 10. Boileau’s work will be on display at the McMillan Arts Centre in Parksville through May 30. (Submitted photo)
RCMP arrested a man in north Nanaimo who wound up empty-handed after allegedly failing at shoplifting, bank robbery and robbery at ATM machine. (File photo)
Man arrested in Nanaimo after failed attempts at bank robbery, ATM mugging, shoplifting

RCMP arrest suspect in office-supply store after ‘short-lived crime spree’

Most Read