Astrazeneca Stock – N.S. showing hesitancy around AstraZeneca vaccine, health officials say blood clot risk low – Halifax
But there are signs of growing hesitancy in the province when it comes to that vaccine.
While the majority of AstraZeneca appointments are still being filled, demand has slowed down, amid concerns about the risk of a rare form of blood clot.
Dr. Katrina Top, a Halifax-based vaccine and infectious disease specialist, says people need to be mindful that the risk remains low.
Health Canada first approved AstraZeneca in February for anyone aged 18 or older. At the time, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended it be used on those under the age of 64, as most studies had not included those over 64.
After reports of the blood clots, the NACI changed their recommendations again, saying that it should only be used on adults over the age of 55.
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In Nova Scotia, where cases remain relatively low, the province is holding to the 55 to 64 age group. However, since the mRNA vaccines have opened up to anyone over 60, fewer people are opting for AstraZeneca — and even cancelling previously-booked appointments.
“This week with the age drop in Pfizer and Moderna, we have seen some cancellations (of) appointments for AstraZeneca later this week and next week, so clearly there’s a bit of hesitation,” said Allison Bodnar, the executive director of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia.
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That means the province could end up with too many AstraZeneca doses.
“We project we may have around 10,000 doses,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang.
“We have it there. Let’s get through the next few weeks so we have some time to figure out what is the best way to use that vaccine.”
Strang says there could be changes in the province’s epidemiology, or the NACI may change its recommended age.
In the meantime, he and other health officials continue to say that people should take the first vaccine offered to them, including AstraZeneca, because the the risk of blood clots is so low.
“(The blood clots are) only seen in one to 20 people per million people who got the vaccine,” said Top.
“In comparison in the first million cases of COVID, we lost 23,000 people who died from this disease.”
— With files from Alicia Draus
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