A nurse holds vials of AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 during a vaccination campaign at WiZink indoor arena in Madrid, Spain, Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Manu Fernandez

A nurse holds vials of AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 during a vaccination campaign at WiZink indoor arena in Madrid, Spain, Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Manu Fernandez

Several provinces lower age eligibility for AstraZeneca: at look at the vaccine

Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta are decreasing the age range from the recommended 55+ NACI set

Several provinces are lowering their minimum age requirement for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, allowing those 40-and-older to receive the jab as unruly spread of COVID-19 continues in their jurisdictions.

Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta are decreasing the age range from the recommended 55+ that the National Advisory Committee on Immunization set last month.

The NACI guidelines came about as Canada and other countries investigated possible links to rare instances of blood clots seen in a small minority of AstraZeneca recipients.

Those events continue to be an exceedingly rare side effect of the vaccine, with Canada reporting twocases out of more than 700,000 doses administered.

Here’s what we know about the AstraZeneca vaccine:

WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO GET IT?

As of Tuesday, people 40 years of age and older will be able to get the AstraZeneca jab in Ontario and Alberta. Manitoba said Monday that it, too, was offering the vaccine to those over age 40.

Health Canada had allowed the use of the vaccine for those 18 and up when it approved AstraZeneca in February, an authorization that has not changed.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said in a press conference Sunday that provinces and territories were “free to use AstraZeneca in any aged population over 18.”

NACI had not updated its minimum age guidance for AstraZeneca as of Monday morning.

Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta’s move to a lower age range comes amid mounting pressure to expand eligibility as a third wave devastates parts of the country.

Alberta had the highest rate of active COVID-19 cases in Canada as of Sunday, while Ontario had reported an average of more than 4,300 new daily cases over the past week.

Concern around the rare clotting events has led to some hesitancy around AstraZeneca, with many eligible residents opting to wait for a jab from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna instead. As the COVID situation worsens in parts of the country, however, experts advise against waiting for another vaccine.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE BLOOD CLOT ISSUE?

The European Medicines Agency said earlier this month it found a possible link to very rare cases of unusual blood clots with low platelet counts in AstraZeneca recipients, usually happening within two weeks of getting the shot.

The global frequency of the blood clot disorder, known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia or VITT, has been estimated at about one case in 100,000 to 250,000 doses.

Data published in the online journal Science last week said there were at least 222 suspected cases reported in Europe — out of 34 million people who received their first dose. More than 30 people have died.

Experts say the risk of developing blood clots due to COVID-19 is much higher, and they encouragepeople to accept the first vaccine they’re offered.

The EMA says symptoms to watch for include: shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling in the leg, persistent abdominal pain, persistent headaches and blurred vision or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site. The clotting issue has been treatable when caught early.

VIDEO: ‘Extremely, extremely rare’ blood clots ‘may be linked’ to AstraZeneca, Health Canada says

HOW EFFECTIVE IS ASTRAZENECA IN PREVENTING COVID INFECTIONS?

Data from clinical trials showed AstraZeneca was 62 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 infections, but it prevented death and hospitalization in all participants who got the virus after receiving the vaccine.

Efficacy was a major talking point when AstraZeneca was first approved, with some comparing it to the 95 per cent efficacy shown in vaccine trials from Pfizer and Moderna.

But experts have stressed that all the authorized vaccines offer excellent protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death.

Real-world data may also suggest the efficacy of AstraZeneca’s vaccine increases over a longer time interval between the first and second shot. Clinical trials used a four-week span between doses but some countries have been delaying second doses by several weeks. In Canada, many provinces have opted to delay the second dose by four months.

HOW DOES THE VACCINE WORK?

All of the approved COVID-19 vaccines train the body to recognize the spike protein that coats the outer surface of the coronavirus.

AstraZeneca — a non-replicating viral vector vaccine — uses a harmless version of a cold virus as a vessel to give our cells the instructions they need to make the coronavirus’s spike protein.

The immune system recognizes the protein and makes antibodies, which then allow us to fend off attack if exposed in the future.

Experts say it takes a couple of weeks for the body to build up some level of immunity with any of the vaccines.

Some may see outward signs of an immediate immune response to the inoculation — the body’s way of preparing for what it perceives as an attack by the virus. This can cause side effects usually seen with other vaccines, including pain at the injection site, redness, swelling and even fever, but experts say that means the vaccine is working.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO THIS VACCINE?

The AstraZeneca vaccine can be shipped and stored at regular refrigerator temperature, unlike those by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need colder storage temperatures.

That’s why they’ve been primarily used in pharmacies across the country, rather than large vaccine clinics.

From a global vaccination standpoint, the low cost of AstraZeneca’s vaccine — about US$4 per dose — gives it another advantage. AstraZeneca, which says it aims to manufacture up to three billion doses in 2021, has pledged to make their product available at cost around the world until at least July.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirusvaccines

Just Posted

Ken Rutherford, left, and Rick Lord of Port Alberni receive honours from the National Model Railroad Association—Pacific Northwest Region for 40 years of dedication to the preservation and presentation of railroad history. (PHOTO COURTESY PHYLLIS RUTHERFORD)
Model railroaders from Port Alberni honoured for rail preservation

Ken Rutherford and Rick Lord put on annual model railroad meet in Nanaimo for 35 years

Former Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ associate coach Brandon Shaw has been named head coach of the Coquitlam Express, also of the B.C. Hockey League. The announcement was made May 12, 2021. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)
BCHL’s Coquitlam Express hire new head coach

Brandon Shaw leaves Alberni Valley Bulldogs for bench boss job

The Alberni Golf Club is located on Cherry Creek Road. FILE PHOTO
ALBERNI GOLF: Men’s club tees up for Mother’s Day

Next Sunday, May 16 will be the Stableford competition

AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)
School district to choose new name for AW Neill Elementary in Port Alberni

School will not be renamed after Winston Joseph, says board

Carol Brown from the Alberni District Fall Fair committee, works on the online feed for the 2020 virtual Fall Fair on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (SONJA DRINKWATER/ Special to the AV News)
Alberni District Fall Fair wins national award for innovation

Long-running traditional Vancouver Island fair went virtual due to COVID-19

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Surrey RCMP is releasing sketches of a suspect in an “indecent act” at the Coyote Creek Elementary playground on April 30, 2021. Police said the suspect was clean-shaven “during some interactions” and on “other occasions had stubble outlining a goatee and mustache.” (Images: Surrey RCMP handout)
Vancouver mayor-elect Kennedy Stewart addresses supporters in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan

Kennedy Stewart says a federal election could see the small window of opportunity close on the city’s bid for an exemption from criminal provisions on simple possession of small amounts of drugs

These are just a handful of Vancouver Island’s missing person cases. Clockwise from top left: Lisa Marie Young, Lindsey Nicholls, Micheal Dunahee, Jesokah Adkens, Belinda Cameron and Emma Fillipoff. (File photos courtesy of family members and police departments)
Could Victoria skull fragment bring closure to an Island missing persons mystery?

Skeletal remains found in Greater Victoria have not yet been identified

Premier Mike Horgan received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Facebook/John Horgan)
More than 50% of people eligible in B.C. have received 1st vaccine dose

‘We’ve made extraordinary progress together over the past few weeks,’ says Premier Horgan

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu on May 8. (Black Press Media file photo)
Indigenous woman shot by police was holding a replica gun, says Ucluelet First Nation

Woman has been identified as a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read