Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended Friday that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine be used to immunize adults 30 and older.
The committee reviewed research on the vaccine following reports of rare blood clots after immunization with AstraZeneca in Europe. A handful of such events have been reported in Canada so far.
On Friday, the committee said the benefits of getting vaccinated with AstraZeneca far outweigh the risks of getting infected with COVID-19. It recommended people be offered the AstraZeneca shot if they do not want to wait for an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna.
The committee declared AstraZeneca’s vaccine safe for use on adults 18 and over, finding no evidence that any particular age group is at a heightened risk for blood clots. It recommended the shot be offered to people 30 and up at first because the risk from contracting COVID-19 increases with age.
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Health Canada has previously said the risk of getting a rare clot involving low platelet counts after immunization with AstraZeneca is about one in 150,000. By comparison, the risk of developing a clot while hospitalized with COVID-19 is about one in five.
NACI was supposed to announce their decision on Tuesday, but delayed it because they received new information that day about how dangerous COVID-19 is. The delay did not have to do with the safety of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, NACI chair Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh said at a news conference Friday.
Earlier this month, Health Canada updated the warning labels on AstraZeneca vaccine to explain the risk of rare blood clots following vaccination.