Dufferin Country residents aged 40 and older, as well as those across the rest of Ontario, can start receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine Tuesday (Apr. 20).
The provincial government lowered the minimum age of the shot as the number of cases and hospitalizations show no end in sight.
“The best vaccine for anyone is the one you can get right away,” said Danny Williamson, communications specialist for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH). “If people have concerns or underlying health conditions, they should speak with their primary care provider.”
All the vaccines approved in Canada are highly effective in curbing COVID-19 infections and preventing severe illness and death.
“At present, only Moderna and Pfizer are offered in the mass vaccination clinics,” said Williamson. “That may change depending on vaccine supply and whether additional vaccines are approved for use.”
Pharmacies and primary care settings will offer the AstraZeneca vaccine, as it was only available for those aged 55 and older.
“Currently, WDG Public Health distributes AstraZeneca for the province’s physician vaccinations,” said Williamson. “Essentially, doses come through public health and then on to local doctors’ offices who handle contacting, booking and administering doses to eligible patients. It is – as you mentioned – also available in pharmacies. These doses flow directly from the province to participating pharmacies.”
The vaccine was approved by Health Canada for anyone over 18 but was halted by provincial governments over age 55 following concerns over the risk of extremely rare blood clots. A federal immunization advisory committee recommended this. An updated review is expected soon.
Canada reported its first case of a blood clot linked to the vaccine this month, involving a woman in Quebec who received a Covishield shot — the brand name of the AstraZeneca vaccine made in India. A second case was reported Saturday in Alberta, involving a man in his 60s. Both patients are recovering.
“While there is a further investigation being undertaken in a number of jurisdictions on the AstraZeneca vaccine, incidences of blood clotting are extremely rare,” said Williamson. “Both Health Canada and Thrombosis Canada recommend individuals who are offered AstraZeneca take the shot.”
The risk of blood clots from the vaccine has been estimated at one in 100,000, although some studies suggest they are even rarer. The federal government reported that 221,484 Canadians had received at least one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and 499,038 had received at least one dose of Covishield as of April 10.
Health Canada is aware of reports of adverse events in Europe following immunization with the AstraZeneca COVD-19 vaccine. In a statement, it would like to reassure Canadians the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh its risks. Health Canada authorized the vaccine based on a thorough, independent review of the evidence and determined that it meets Canada’s stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements.
At this time, there is no indication that the vaccine caused these events. No adverse events related to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, or the version manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, have been reported to Health Canada or the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner