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AstraZeneca vaccine now recommended for Canadians 30 and older

National committee previously recommended suspending use of the vaccine for those under 55
B.C. initially paused the use of the vaccine for those under 55 but this week the province resumed administering doses to those 40 and older.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is expanding its recommended age groups for those looking to get dosed with the AstraZeneca plc COVID-19 vaccine.

It’s now recommending that health officials offer the vaccine to people ages 30 and older, according to a Friday announcement.

This comes after NACI recommended last month that health officials suspend the use of AstraZeneca for those under the age of 55 amid concerns that a small number of blood clots had been linked to those who had received a dose.

B.C. initially paused the use of the vaccine for those under 55 but this week the province resumed administering doses to those 40 and older.

NACI’s advice serves only as a recommendation — not a mandate — to provincial health officials who ultimately decide how the vaccine is administered.

“Based on NACI’s initial technical briefing to provinces and territories, jurisdictions have already begun to announce their intentions regarding the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, reflecting the pressing epidemiological conditions within their jurisdictions,” the committee said in a summary of its updated recommendations.

“NACI recognizes that public health benefit-risk analyses for the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine may vary between jurisdictions based on factors such as local COVID-19 epidemiology; local vaccine supply and logistics; and equity and acceptability considerations. These factors will change over time.”

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday he expects the province’s supply of AstraZeneca vaccine to be depleted in the coming week.

It remains to be seen when new deliveries of that specific vaccine are due to arrive in Canada as the U.S., which has not yet approved the vaccine, sits on a surplus of supply and India faces an urgent need to combat a surge of COVID-19 cases.

Both countries have the capacity to manufacture the AstraZeneca vaccine, while Canada does not.

The U.S. had previously loaned Canada 1.5 million doses of its stockpiled supply, and both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Friday conversations are ongoing with the Biden administration about securing additional doses.

A media briefing with federal officials, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and NACI members was cancelled at the last minute Tuesday ahead of what was expected to be an update on the status of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said the following day that NACI had received “new data they thought was pertinent in terms of analyzing the impact of COVID-19 on the population in light of variants of concern.”