Hinshaw to announce new age guidelines for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

On Monday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health is expected to announce a pause on the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine program for those under the age of 55.

The age guideline change is in line with an expected change in recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), a senior source in the Alberta government told Global News.

Manitoba and Quebec also confirmed on Monday they are pausing rollouts to those under 55.

Senior government sources in the Saskatchewan and Ontario governments also tell Global News they were each informed of the pending change to NACI’s recommendations on Sunday night.

Read more: Provinces hit pause on AstraZeneca vaccine as public health officials brace for new guidance

Multiple provincial government sources who have been briefed on NACI’s pending announcement to recommend pausing AstraZeneca vaccines for those under the age of 55 say it is because of issues related to blood clots observed in some recipients of the A-Z vaccine.

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Another provincial government source said NACI had concerns about the link between thromboses, AstraZeneca and women of a child-bearing age.

Read more: Can AstraZeneca’s reputation be saved? Experts worry ‘unforced errors’ erode trust

In a statement Monday afternoon, Health Canada said it has become aware that “additional cases” of blood clots and low blood platelets have occurred in people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“To date, no cases of these events have been reported in Canada,” the statement reads.

The agency said “in light of this evolving information,” it will be issuing additional “terms and conditions on the authorizations of the AstraZeneca and Verity Pharmaceuticals/Serum Institute of India vaccines.”

This includes a requirement that the manufacturers conduct a “detailed assessment of the benefits and risks of the vaccine by age and sex in the Canadian context.”

Health Canada said this information will help with its “ongoing evaluation of these rare blood clotting events” and allow the agency to determine if specific groups are at a higher risk.

Read more: Hinshaw assures AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine safe as Alberta opens eligibility to more people

Health Canada initially approved the AstraZeneca shot for all adults before NACI recommended it only be used on people under 65. NACI changed course, saying real-world results indicated effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine on seniors.

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Alberta is expected to receive 175,400 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week, according to the federal government’s vaccine rollout site.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw has a news conference scheduled for 2:15 p.m. Monday. It will be live streamed in this article post.

WATCH (March 24): Alberta’s Dr. Deena Hinshaw says Health Canada is adding a warning to the AstraZeneca vaccine after a small number of people reported blood clots in the brain two weeks after receiving the vaccine. She stressed this is “treatable and very rare.”

Click to play video: 'Health Canada adding warning about blood clots to AstraZeneca vaccine: Hinshaw' Health Canada adding warning about blood clots to AstraZeneca vaccine: Hinshaw

Health Canada adding warning about blood clots to AstraZeneca vaccine: Hinshaw

On Sunday, Alberta recorded 644 new COVID-19 cases, 235 of which were variants of concern. Out of Alberta’s total active cases, 25.6 per cent were variants.

Alberta’s positivity rate was 5.4 per cent.

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There were 277 people in hospital, 63 of whom were in intensive care.

Three COVID-19 fatalities were reported Sunday.

As of March 27, Alberta had administered 594,723 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

— More to come…

— With files from

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