By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Ontario’s pause on the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine has created uncertainty for the 2,400 local residents who have received a first dose.
Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said the province is no longer administering AZ for a first jab but there are tentative plans to offer it as a second dose.
Those who have received AstraZeneca are among the more than two million Canadians who have taken it as a first shot.
Some high profile officials, such as Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau had AstraZeneca for their first shot.
There’s new data that suggests there’s only a one-in-a-million chance of experiencing blood clots – a potentially lethal side effect – from a second dose.
The AstraZeneca controversy swirls around a rare blood condition called VITT – vaccine induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia – a blood-clotting complication that can lead to death if untreated.
However, Colby said the risk of VITT is very low, and that blood clots from COVID-19 are far more common.
Ontario health experts will follow the science, he said, adding the health unit will endorse whatever evidence comes forward.
The Ontario Science Table currently sets the risk of VITT with a first dose at one in 55,000, while the National Advisory Committee on Immunization estimates the risk at one in 100,000.
Symptoms of vaccine-related blood clotting typically occur within a month of taking the shot, and are treatable. Colby said there have been no reported incidents of this happening in Chatham-Kent.
According to Colby, some countries have had great success with AstraZeneca, adding England has used it to bring the country’s COVID-19 pandemic under control.
That country is looking forward to a normal summer, where the public can mingle and attend events such as concerts.