Ontario keeping AstraZeneca shots to those aged 40+ for now due to supply issues

TORONTO — Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott’s office said Friday that the province will continue to administer AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to those 40 years of age and older, despite an updated recommendation from Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) that it now be offered to those 30 and over.

A spokesperson for Elliot’s office said in a statement that while Ontario welcomes the recommendation to lower the age threshold, there is not currently sufficient supply to expand eligibility.

“With approximately 337,000 doses remaining and future shipments not expected until May, we will continue to administer AstraZeneca to individuals 40 and over in pharmacies and primary care settings until we receive additional supply,” the statement read. “This is aligned with Ontario’s vaccine rollout which prioritizes age and risk.”

The NACI said Friday that it is now recommending that the AstraZeneca vaccine be offered to anyone 30 years of age and older in Canada who doesn’t want to wait for an mRNA vaccine.

The committee announced its updated recommendation at a news conference Friday, days after abruptly cancelling another news conference where it was slated to provide the update.

The committee had previously advised giving the shots to those 55 and older as it evaluated evidence of a link to rare blood clots which had mostly occurred in younger people.

Also on Friday, Ontario reported its first case of a rare blood clot associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, in a man in his 60s. However health officials maintain that the chance of getting a clot from the vaccine is rare.

Ontario expanded use of the shot to those 40 years of age and older earlier this week and has seen its daily vaccination numbers leap ahead since doing so.

The vaccine is being distributed in Ontario through pharmacies and doctors’ offices and appointments to get the shots have been snatched up quickly as they become available.

To date, Ontario has received 900,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from various sources.

The federal government has said that 4.1 million more doses of the vaccine are expected to arrive in the country by the end of June, but a delivery schedule to the provinces has not yet been published.

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