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Newfoundland and Labrador will suspend giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under the age of 55.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald made the announcement Monday after a new recommendation came from the National Advisory Council on Immunization. The provincial government released the following advisory:

Effective immediately, provincial public health officials are advising that the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be paused for adults under age 55. This decision is based on new guidelines from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which sites European reports of rare instances of pro-thrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT) in people four to 20 days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

People who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine within the last 20 days, should seek immediate medical attention in the rare event that you develop symptoms starting four days or more after vaccination, including:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Sudden onset of severe or persistent worsening headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Skin bruising (other than at the site of vaccination)

There is no need for concern for any person who received the AstraZeneca vaccine more than 20 days ago.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, approximately 4,600 individuals have received their first dose using the AstraZeneca vaccine. Representatives from regional health authorities will contact affected individuals directly. If anyone who has received AstraZeneca has questions or concerns, they should call 811.

Health Canada has stated that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine continues to be safe and effective at protecting Canadians against COVID-19 and encourages people to get immunized with any of the COVID-19 vaccines that are authorized in Canada.

Adults 55 years of age and older may still be offered the AstraZeneca vaccine, given the increased risk of hospitalization and death due to COVID-19 in this population.

People are encouraged to visit www.gov.nl.ca/covid-19/vaccine/ to get the facts on the vaccine and the changes being announced today. A backgrounder with questions and answers on AstraZeneca is below.