A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Canada to pause Oxford-AstraZeneca shots for under-55s

OTTAWA — Multiple sources have confirmed to The Canadian Press that federal immunization experts will change their recommendation to specify that the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine should not be used on people under the age of 55.

They spoke on background because they were not authorized to discuss the move publicly.

A briefing with Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization and Health Canada doctors is planned for this afternoon to explain the details to Canadians

Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Health Canada has been monitoring data very closely following reports of adverse effects in other jurisdictions.

The AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for all people over 18 on Feb. 26, but NACI then said there weren’t enough seniors included in clinical trials to be confident about how the vaccine would perform on people over the age of 65.

Two weeks later NACI retracted that advice citing new real-world evidence from the United Kingdom that showed the vaccine was very effective when used on seniors.

This latest recommendation follows reports in Europe that about three dozen patients developed blood clots following immunization with the AstraZeneca vaccine, most of them younger women.

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