Sask. 'actively reviewing' lowering AstraZeneca eligibility to those age 40 and older
REGINA -- The Saskatchewan government says it is “actively reviewing” lowering the age eligibility for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to make the shot available for those age 40 and older.
Alberta, Ontario and Manitoba and have updated the eligibility to allow people age 40 and older to receive AstraZeneca.
Premier Scott Moe made the announcement in a tweet posted Monday morning.
“We haven't made that decision yet we're still consulting but the good news is we don't have a lot of AstraZeneca on hand, we've utilized, not all of our AstraZeneca, but we have the majority of it out in arms in drive-thru’s and appointments across the clinics,” Minister of Health Paul Merriman said.
An Alberta man and a woman from Quebec were both diagnosed with a blood clot linked to AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine. Both are now recovering, but professionals say it’s worth the risk.
Health Canada has licenced AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in those over the age of 18.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization currently advises the shot only be offered to those over the age of 55.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been linked to the potential of developing blood clots. An infectious disease physician in Regina said the province could lower the age on its own, but is likely waiting for the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to lower the eligibility.
“The relatively minimal risk of clots, so somewhere between 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 250,000 with AstraZeneca vaccine, compared to the likelihood that A, you’re going to get COVID and B, that you’re potentially going to get sick or get really sick from COVID, is just getting progressively higher and higher,” Dr. Alex Wong said.
Merriman said the majority of negative outcomes associated with COVID-19 in Saskatchewan come from people that are over the age of 40.
“Once we get to that number, that covers off most of the people that would have severe outcomes. So we want to continue moving down to that age group, but the one barrier we have right now is a very very small vaccine supply.” Merriman said.
Dr. Wong said it’s likely the entire country will lower the eligibility to 40 plus. He said the U.K. has pushed the age eligibility lower to 30, but it’s different for each region.
“Maybe as things evolve and as the guidance continues to change there will be ongoing high level guidance saying that we should keep pushing it lower,” Dr. Wong said. “But the bottom line is is that when you’re kind of blowing through a third wave like we are, it makes a lot of sense to try to get as much vaccine into people as possible.”
Dr. Wong said the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks and encourages anyone eligible to go and get a vaccine.