B.C. won’t be administering the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in younger people for at least a few days.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, announced Monday that the province will stop using the vaccine in those 55 and under for a “few days” following rare reports of blood clotting in European patients.
“Over this past week, a signal was detected in younger people in Europe using the AstraZeneca vaccine, while the instances are rare … we are taking the precaution of suspending the use of this vaccine for people who are under age 55 for the next few days,” she said.
Henry while there have been less than 30 cases worldwide of people getting blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, including none in B.C., it is still a serious condition that needs to be examined further.
“It is a serious condition and could lead to serious outcomes so we are acting decisively, unified across this country to pause the use of this vaccine,” she said.
Individuals who received the AstraZeneca more than 20 days ago and have not developed symptoms should not be concerned, according to Henry. She said those who have received the vaccine less than 20 days ago should monitor themselves for any concerning symptoms.
“If you have received the AstraZeneca vaccine and you develop symptoms that are concerning such as headaches or swelling … you can seek medical attention,” Henry said. “What we do know is this is very rare and it is unlikely we will see any cases here in British Columbia or in Canada, but it is also a condition we have a test for and there is treatment.”
Health Canada is now demanding information from AstraZeneca about what impact their vaccine could have on Canadians and has demanded they conduct a study across multiple age groups.
“Health Canada is working closely with the European medicine agencies and the U.K. to understand what this means in those countries and if there are implications for people here in British Columbia,” said Henry.
Meanwhile, the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) issued a bulletin Monday afternoon recommending against the vaccine’s use for anyone under the age of 55.
Henry said B.C.’s decision was taken after consultation with experts. She said alternative vaccines are available for people under the age 55 and expects more information from AstraZeneca to become available soon.
“This is our safety system working across the world and in Canada. It means we are taking immediate action when we see a signal to protect health,” she said.