Some Canadian provinces suspend AstraZeneca vaccine for people under age 55

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OTTAWA, March 29 (Xinhua) — Some Canadian provinces have stopped the administration of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to people under the age of 55 following new recommendations from Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).

The NACI recommended on Monday pausing administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under the age of 55, pending further investigation on reported cases of vaccine-induced venothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT), a rare blood clotting disorder, in Europe.

VIPIT is a condition that refers to blood clots. Symptoms include serious headache, seizure, blurred vision and shortness of breath that tend to develop between four and 16 days after receiving the vaccine.

“We are taking this precautionary measure while Health Canada as the regulator completes its updated risk-benefit analysis based on emerging data,” Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said at a press conference on Monday.

Following the recommendation, eight Canadian provinces, including Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick, announced they would follow the guidance.

While there have been no cases of VIPIT in Canada, cases internationally have been identified primarily in women under the age of 55, though cases have been reported in men as well, according to the NACI.

In a statement on Monday, Health Canada said there have been no reports of blood clots from the AstraZeneca vaccine in this country, but noted that cases have been reported in Europe and it is now requiring “additional terms and conditions on the authorizations of the AstraZeneca and Verity Pharmaceuticals/Serum Institute of India vaccines.”

More deadly COVID-19 variants are circulating widely in Canada, and new daily infections have reached the same number at the height of the second wave in several provinces in the country.

With COVID-19 activity increasing and a high proportion of cases involving more contagious variants of concern, strong public health measures and individual precautions must be sustained where COVID-19 is circulating, said Theresa Tam, Canadian chief public health officer, in a statement on Monday.

As of Monday evening, Canada reported a cumulative 971,718 cases of COVID-19 and 22,900 deaths. More than 5.2 million doses have been administered across the country, according to the CTV. Enditem

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