Sask. 'actively reviewing' dropping age eligibility for AstraZeneca vaccine to 40: Moe

·2 min read
'To ensure more residents have access to a COVID vaccine as quickly as possible, Saskatchewan is actively reviewing lowering the eligibility age for the AstraZeneca vaccine,' Premier Scott Moe tweeted on Monday. (CBC - image credit)
'To ensure more residents have access to a COVID vaccine as quickly as possible, Saskatchewan is actively reviewing lowering the eligibility age for the AstraZeneca vaccine,' Premier Scott Moe tweeted on Monday. (CBC - image credit)

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the province is "actively reviewing" whether to allow people aged 40 and up to receive the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.

Currently, only people aged 55 and over can receive that vaccine, a barrier that has at times slowed the pace of Saskatchewan's vaccine delivery.

Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba have already made the move to a more permissive age bracket.

The 55-and-over eligibility requirement was in line with recommendations from the National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI) earlier this spring. NACI was acting on information that a small number of younger people in Europe developed a serious blood-clotting condition.

An Oxford study has since found the risk of blood clots from a COVID-19 infection is eight to 10 times higher than from a vaccine. The odds of getting a blood clot from a vaccine are estimated to be between one in 100,000 and one in 250,000.

NACI is reviewing updated information from Health Canada, which has now determined AstraZeneca is safe and will not be restricting its use in any specific populations.

Premier cites moves by Ontario, Alberta

Moe made his remarks about the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine on Twitter on Monday morning.

"To ensure more SK residents have access to a COVID vaccine as quickly as possible, Saskatchewan is actively reviewing lowering the eligibility age for the AstraZeneca vaccine to residents aged 40+ following Health Canada guidance and similar decisions by Alberta and Ontario," Moe's tweet read.

The premier did not cite a timeline for making a decision.

In a scrum with reporters later Monday, Health Minister Paul Merriman said no decision had been made, but that such a decision would not greatly impact Saskatchewan's vaccine rollout as there are few AstraZeneca doses left to give out — unless supply increased from the federal government.

"Everything that we have left over for AstraZeneca is pretty much booked in already for somebody that is over the age of 55," he said. "We've utilized it very well."