Saskatchewan pauses AstraZeneca vaccinations for people under 55

·3 min read
Vials with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine against the novel coronavirus are pictured at the vaccination center in Nuremberg, southern Germany, on March 18, 2021. (Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)
Vials with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine against the novel coronavirus are pictured at the vaccination center in Nuremberg, southern Germany, on March 18, 2021. (Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images - image credit)

Saskatchewan is suspending the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on people younger than 55 on the advice of Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).

The NACI issued updated guidelines Monday on the use of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD in Canada, recommending that use for populations under 55 be paused because of safety concerns

The change, which other provinces quickly adopted Monday, comes following reports out of Europe of very rare instances of blood clots in some immunized patients — notably among younger women.

Five-hundred thousand of these shots have been distributed in Canada already with no reports of blood clots here, officials said.

The blood clotting problem also has not been reported in people who have received mRNA vaccines like the Pfizer and Moderna products.

In Saskatchewan, officials noted that some residents younger than 55 would have received AstraZeneca, including eligible health care workers and vaccinators, but that no thrombosis-like adverse events have been reported in Saskatchewan to date.

Vaccinators administered AstraZeneca at a drive-thru in Regina to residents 58 years and older until March 22, when the site was closed because supply had run out. There remains fewer than 100 doses of AstraZeneca in the province right now.

A shipment of 46,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from the United States is expected to arrive in Saskatchewan this week.

"The Saskatchewan Health Authority is examining the potential impacts to vaccine roll-out plans now and will have an update in the coming days," according to a news release issued Monday.

202 new cases reported

Health officials reported 202 new cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan on Monday, marking the fourth consecutive day when new cases exceeded 200. Monday's results were based on 3,067 tests performed.

The new cases are located in the following regions: far northwest (two), far northeast (six), northwest (nine), north central (10), northeast (11), Saskatoon (22), central west (four), central east (six), Regina (101), southwest (1), south central (10) and southeast (16). There are four cases with pending residence information.

<cite>(Matt Howard/CBC)</cite>
(Matt Howard/CBC)

The seven-day average of daily new cases has been on the rise in recent days and is currently 199.3, or 16.3 cases per 100,000.

One hundred sixty-two people are in hospital due to COVID-19, including 25 people who are under intensive care. Regina General Hospital is currently beyond its capacity for ICU beds.

As of Sunday, 1,474 variants of concern have been identified by screening in Saskatchewan. Those cases are in the following regions: far northeast (one), Saskatoon (17), central west (two), central east (25), Regina (1,222), south central (109) and southeast (98).

Variants of concern are on the rise in the Moose Jaw area. People there are encouraged to practise the following measures:

  • Wear your mask in all public places including all workplaces.

  • Wash non-medical masks daily.

  • Maintain physical distancing.

  • Wash your hands frequently.

  • Reduce activities outside of your home. Order take-out or curbside pick-up. If you are able to work from home, work from home at this time.

  • Avoid all unnecessary travel to and from Moose Jaw.

A newspaper in the community came under fire this week for an editorial in which COVID-19 restrictions were compared to the Holocaust.