Alberta has confirmed the country’s second rare blood clot case in a patient who received the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the province’s chief medical health officer announced Saturday.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the male patient, who is in his 60s and recovering, marks the second Canadian case of the blood clot disorder known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia, or VITT.
The diagnosis does not change the province’s risk assessment of the vaccine, she said, adding that she is taking the event “extremely seriously.”
“These blood clots remain extremely rare, and anyone who is aged 55 and older faces much higher risks from COVID-19 infection than from this vaccine,” Hinshaw told reporters on a conference call.
“When it’s quickly identified, appropriate treatment can be put in place to make sure that those who do have this very rare side effect are treated appropriately and then can recover.”
She continued to recommend AstraZeneca for anyone 55 and older, saying it is the best way to protect their health.
“I know that reports of any adverse events can be scary, especially when it involves a new vaccine,” she said. “If I were in this age category I would get this vaccine.”
More than 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca have been administered across Canada to date.
The global frequency of VITT has been estimated at about one case in 100,000 to 250,000 doses. In stark comparison, Albertans 55 and older who are diagnosed with COVID-19 have a one in 200 chance of dying from that infection, Hinshaw said.
In Europe, only a few dozen cases of the rare blood clots following inoculation have been reported compared to the millions vaccinated with AstraZeneca. Most of those cases have occurred within 14 days of the shot, and the majority were in women under 55.
“It’s not that there’s no risk of this outcome in those who are over 55 or that there’s no risk in men, but rather that it is still such a very rare risk,” Hinshaw said.
A Quebec woman was the first in Canada to develop a blood clot after being vaccinated with AstraZeneca.