Alberta temporarily suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in anyone under the age of 55, after rare incidents of blood clots were reported in Europe.
The temporary halt will allow Health Canada to further investigate, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health.
“While all available data and evidence shows no increase in overall risk of blood clots for those who receive AstraZeneca, in a very small number of people who received the vaccine, a blood clot in the brain was reported four to 20 days after vaccine. These incidents are rare and at this point seemed to be linked to AstraZeneca, possibly through an immune response,” she said.
“There is no evidence of any similar issues linked to the other vaccines that were are using in Alberta,” she said.
There have been no reported cases of these blood clots in Alberta or anywhere in Canada.
“However safety is always our top priority. This pause will allow Health Canada to conduct further assessments and gather more information from around the world.”
Anyone who has already received the vaccine is not considered to be at high-risk of blood clots, Hinshaw said, adding about 900 Albertans under 55 have received the AstraZeneca vaccine. No one has received a second dose.
The Alberta government will expand its vaccine rollout to Phase 2B Tuesday.
More than 945,000 Albertans with underlying health conditions are now eligible to book their COVID-19 vaccination, the government announced Monday morning.
Phase 2B of Alberta’s vaccine rollout includes cancer patients, transplant recipients, individuals with disabilities, dementia and other conditions that put them at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19.
Starting Tuesday, Albertans born in or before 1963 with eligible underlying conditions will be able to book appointments through participating pharmacies that have vaccine supply in Red Deer, Calgary and Edmonton. In the coming week, as more vaccine supply is available, other pharmacies will begin to offer bookings.
Starting April 5, Alberta Health Services will start taking bookings for people eligible in Phase 2B born in or before 1959. Additional birth years in Phase 2B will become eligible as more vaccines arrive.
“This is great news for vulnerable Albertans and another big step forward in our vaccine rollout,” said Minister of Health Tyler Shandro.
“Anyone with these serious health conditions will now be eligible for vaccines that give effective protection from COVID-19. We’re ramping up our vaccinations as fast as the incoming vaccine supply allows. Every adult in Alberta will be offered a first dose by the end of June.”
More specific information on each underlying health condition, including examples, is available at alberta.ca.
By the end of Phase 2B, Albertans born in 2005 or earlier (ages 16 and up) with certain high-risk health conditions will be able to receive the vaccine.
A doctor’s note or other proof of your condition is not required to get the vaccine in Phase 2B.
The health conditions chosen for Phase 2B are associated with a higher risk of death or hospitalization from COVID-19 and were recommended by the Alberta Advisory Committee on Immunization.
To reduce delays and help appointments be booked quickly, Phase 2B will follow a staggered approach.