Canada Says AstraZeneca Shot Safe for Seniors

Despite a pause in the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in western European countries over concerns about blood clots, Canada has reversed its decision to recommend the vaccine to people over the age of 65.  According to a recent Canadian Press report, The National Advisory Committee on Immunization says that recent UK studies demonstrate the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective for seniors. 

Older adults are more vulnerable to serious illness and hospitalization as a result of novel coronavirus infection, and health experts advise seniors to take whatever vaccine is available and offered.  Although the two mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Modern have been found to be more effective than AstraZeneca’s, it is no longer recommended that older adults avoid getting the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Ongoing reports and studies are following any association between blood clots and vaccines, but Health Canada’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma stated recently that there is no biological evidence linking the AstraZeneca vaccine with an increased risk for blood clots.  Thrombosis Canada also said the vaccine was safe.  

In the US, the AstraZeneca vaccine has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration – despite the fact that millions of doses of the vaccine are sitting in storage.  With recent vaccine shortages, Mexico has asked the US to share its supply.  The AstraZeneca vaccine is already authorized in Mexico and has received an emergency use designation from the World Health Organization for distribution in low and middle-income countries. 

According to the British Medical Journal, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca are reported to be in discussions about updating their vaccines to target the new variants.  Moderna is waiting for approval to start trials on a modified version of its vaccine that will target the B.1.351 variant.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines for older adults by following this link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.