Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Trudeau, Freeland seeking AstraZeneca shots as they become age-eligible with others

Trudeau, Freeland seeking AstraZeneca shots as they become age-eligible with others

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland joined millions of generation X Canadians trying to nab a vaccine appointment at a pharmacy Tuesday.

Trudeau, 49, and Freeland, 52, became suddenly eligible when Ontario lowered the age to get an Oxford-AstraZeneca shot at a pharmacy to people 40 years old and up.

Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba have also dropped the age eligibility to 40. All provinces had previously been limiting the vaccine to those over 55, while health experts looked into the risk the vaccine posed for blood clots.

Health Canada said last week there is evidence suggesting there is a link between the vaccine and a very rare risk of blood clots, but that the risk is extremely low and the vaccine very effective. They said it is still safe for all adults.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is to announce Tuesday if they will change their advice on limiting it to people over 55 but several provinces didn’t wait for NACI.

Many pharmacies reported in recent days that appointments for people 55 and up were going unfilled, and there was a risk some doses were going to go to waste.

Trudeau told pharmacists during a virtual meeting Tuesday morning that his office is still working out the details, “but I look forward to having a pharmacist give me my vaccine as soon as we can secure an appointment in the proper processes.”

“We’ll keep you posted on it,” he told them.

Freeland, at the same meeting, said she dispatched her children to use their technology skills online to find her an appointment.

“My daughter said we’re on a wait list so I have to check on that after this,” she said. “But as soon as I can I’ll get mine too and I hope at a local pharmacy.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2021.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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