A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

A health-care worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

AstraZeneca vaccine to be offered to Lower Mainland residents ages 55-65 starting March 31

Moves comes after concerns over blood clots halted frontline worker vaccination program

British Columbians between the ages of 55 and 65 in the Lower Mainland will be able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine from their local pharmacist starting Wednesday (March 31).

In a Tuesday news release, the province said that Immunize BC is partnering with community pharmacies in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions to try and combat the recent spike in COVID cases. If people aged 55 to 65 wait for their turn in the age-based vaccine rollout, they are unlikely to get the jab before late April or May. B.C. reported 840 new cases Tuesday, and more than 2,500 over the past weekend.

“The AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine is another important tool in our immunization program to get us past this surge of COVID-19 cases. We know from the millions of doses used worldwide, and especially in the U.K., it is highly effective and the benefits to those over age 55 far outweigh the very real risks of getting COVID-19,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “I encourage everyone in the Lower Mainland who is between 55 and 65 years of age to receive their safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine today.”

The new program comes the day after B.C. announced it was pausing its frontline worker vaccination program, which used AstraZeneca, after reports of vaccine-induced blot clots were reported in a very small number of people under age 55 across the world. The cases were largely in Europe and Canadian health officials have confirmed that their are no cases of vaccine-induced blood clots in the country. The AstraZeneca vaccine has been the subject of much back-and-forth since it was approved in Canada, with a federal advisory committee first recommending against using it in seniors over age 65 and then walking back that recommendation.

In order to book an AstraZeneca shot, people aged 55 to 65 in either Vancouver Coastal or Fraser Health can call their local pharmacy and book an appointment starting Wednesday. Drop-in appointments may also be an option at some pharmacies. The shot is free, but people must bring their personal health number, which is found on their BC Services Card or CareCard.

READ MORE: B.C.’s frontline worker vaccine program in flux as AstraZeneca use paused for under-55s


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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