New Brunswick reports two more cases of rare blood-clotting event tied to vaccine

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FREDERICTON — New Brunswick reported two more cases on Thursday of a rare blood-clotting event in people who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Two people in their 50s received the vaccine in mid-April, and one became ill after 11 days and the other fell ill after 19 days, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Thursday.

One person has recovered while the second person is in hospital. New Brunswick has reported a total of four cases of vaccine-induced thrombotic thrombocytopenia, including one death.

"We have experienced a higher-than-average number of cases of VITT compared to the global numbers — which can happen," Russell said. "However, AstraZeneca remains an important tool in our fight against COVID-19."

She said the province will continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine as booster shots for people who have already received their first dose of that vaccine.

"We will not be using the vaccine for first doses in our campaign for the general population, but there are circumstances where this approved and widely used global vaccine can be used for homebound extramural patients who have provided their consent, after fully understanding the associated risks," Russell said.

She said the risk of blood clots after a second dose of AstraZeneca is reported being around one in one million.

New Brunswick has administered 44,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and still has 4,000 doses on hand. The province says it expects to receive another 13,500 doses next week.

The province reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, 10 of which are in the Fredericton region. Officials said 10 people were in hospital with the disease, including three in intensive care.

The Horizon Health Network reported a COVID-19 outbreak at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital complex in Fredericton. Visitation is restricted and non-urgent surgeries and ambulatory care appointments will be postponed until further notice.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 13, 2021.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press

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