The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has recommended provinces administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to adults aged 30 years old and older but the province says they’re not quite ready to lower the age.
NACI officials say the recommendation is for those who do not want to wait for an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer and Moderna).
They initially recommended a pause on using AstraZeneca for people younger than 55 out of an abundance of caution after reports of rare blood clots.
Health Canada released a safety assessment that showed the benefits of the shot outweighed the risks and has approved the vaccine for all adults.
BREAKING: The National Advisory Committee on Immunization now recommends provinces give the Astra Zeneca vaccine to adults 30 years of age and older #cdnpoli
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) April 23, 2021
NACI doctors emphasize each province and region will set its own policy on vaccination.
Shelly Deeks, vice-chair of NACI, says people need to be given a choice, especially if they are able to avoid COVID-19 infection by isolating or following public health guidelines.
“We have made the recommendation that anybody who, because of the risk, the very rare risk, of VITT does not wish to receive the vaccine should be able to wait and receive an mRNA vaccine.”
A spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Health said in a statement they will continue to give the vaccine to people aged 40 and above.
“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 an additional supply,” they said.
“This is aligned with Ontario’s vaccine rollout which prioritizes age and risk.”
#BREAKING – The Ford government is NOT yet moving to 30+ for the AstraZeneca shot. Minister of Health’s office says:
“We look forward to receiving future shipments of AstraZeneca, which will allow us to begin vaccinating more Ontarians in younger age groups.”
— Richard Southern (@richard680news) April 23, 2021
An additional shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine, estimated to be approximately 389,000 doses, was expected mid-April and has been delayed until the end of May.
The following shipment of 194,500 doses originally expected at the start of May has now been delayed to the end of May.
Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s top doctor, says a 60-year-old man was the first Ontario patient to have a blood clot after receiving their first dose of the shot.
It was the fourth case of the rare clotting condition in Canada out of more than 1.1 million AstraZeneca doses administered across the country.
That patient has been treated and is recovering at home.
Doctors at NACI say if people in low-risk situations still want to wait for the Pfizer or Moderna shot, they should be allowed to do so.
“If somebody decides not to take AstraZeneca for some reason, that person should not be put at the end of the list of the mRNA because of their priorities,” Dr. Caroline Quach of NACI said.
Earlier Friday, Ontario began offering COVID-19 vaccines to all pregnant individuals after the government noted they had a high risk of severe illness from the virus.
The health minister’s office said pregnant individuals are now considered among those with the highest risk health conditions under the province’s vaccination plan.
They could book shots through the provincial vaccine call centre or local public health units, with no doctor’s note required.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada has secured booster vaccines from Pfizer for 2022 and 2023, with options to extend into 2024.
The agreement guarantees access to 65 million doses, with access to up to 120 million more if all options are exercised.
With files from The Canadian Press.