COVID-19: B.C. woman hospitalized after AstraZeneca shot

There have been three reported deaths in Canada from AstraZeneca blood clots.

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A woman in her 40s has become the first person in B.C. to develop blood clots after taking the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“We have had our first case of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia, that we have seen around the world and across the country,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said on Thursday.

“This was following receipt of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination, and the person is a woman in their 40s. She is stable and currently receiving treatment in hospital in the Vancouver Coastal Health (region).”

Henry said the chance of developing an AstraZeneca-related blood clot are one in 100,000 and that blood clots are identifiable and treatable. She said the woman developed the clot between five and six days after she was vaccinated, and went to her family doctor with symptoms.

According to Thrombosis Canada’s latest bulletin, the AstraZeneca vaccine is associated “with extremely rare cases of serious blood clots, including blood clots that occur in the brain called cerebral vein-sinus thrombosis.”

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Symptoms of this vaccine-induced blood clotting include a persistent and severe headache, vision changes, seizures, weakness or numbness of the arms or legs, shortness of breath, abdominal or chest pain and swelling and redness in arms and legs.

Henry said the main vaccines used in B.C. are Pfizer and Moderna, and that the province is not expecting much AstraZeneca in the future.

“So in some ways, it’s a bit of a moot point,” Henry said. “But I do want to reassure those people that have received the AstraZeneca vaccine in the last few weeks and months, it is an excellent vaccine. We only have to look at places like the U.K. to see how beneficial it has been at helping stop the outbreaks that we have been seeing.”

The federal government is closely watching a U.K. study to see whether a person can get a first dose of AstraZeneca, with the required second dose being a Pfizer or Moderna shot. This is particularly important to B.C., where hundreds of thousands of AstraZeneca shots were administered to people not eligible for the age-based rollout.

Of 28.5 million doses of AstraZeneca administered in the U.K. as of April 28, there were 242 cases of the blood clots, including 49 deaths. The U.K. plans to offer under-40s an alternative to the AstraZeneca shot because of concerns about blood clots.

There have been three reported deaths in Canada from AstraZeneca blood clots.

Henry said there were 684 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. over the past day and one additional death. There are now 6,802 active cases of the disease, of which 457 are being treated in hospital including 154 in intensive care. Henry said hospitalizations and active cases are falling.

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She said there have been no new health-care outbreaks, with four active outbreaks in long-term care homes and three in hospitals.

Henry said it’s unlikely B.C. will be using a vaccine passport system in the province, an idea being explored in Quebec.

However, she said proof of vaccination could be needed to travel internationally.

As of 9:30 a.m. Thursday, there had been 1,995,496 vaccines administered in B.C. — primarily the Pfizer vaccine. Henry said this would reach the two-million mark during the day.

dcarrigg@postmedia.com


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