(Island Health)

The use of  AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is on pause in BC for those under 55.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said regulators have noted an adverse effect known as vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT) in a small percentage of people who have had the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended pausing its use for adults under the age of 55 until an additional risk assessment can be completed.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has not been part of the age-based vaccination program in BC; rather, it has been available to health officials in targeting COVID-19 hotspots.

Henry said British Columbians who received the AstraZeneca vaccine more than 20 days ago should have no concerns.

Anyone who received an AstraZeneca dose less than 20 days ago and is experiencing symptoms, such as headaches or swelling, can seek medical attention.

The recommendations follow reports from Europe of rare blood clot issues in some people after use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

There have been no deaths due to adverse effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine in Canada and Canadian health officials assert the vaccine’s safety.

“Overall, the benefits of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and protecting Canadians from COVID-19 continue to outweigh the risks,” said Dr. Theresa Tam.

The news comes amid announcements that increased measures and restrictions to curb the transmission of COVID-19, including banning indoor dining at restaurants and group physical activities, and mandatory masks for students grade 4 and up.

The decision to have indoor religious gatherings has also been reversed.

As of this publication, 699,092 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in BC, 87,289 of which are second doses.

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