Dr. Henry: All vaccines, including AstraZeneca, 'safe and effective'
VANCOUVER -- Provincial and federal authorities reiterated their confidence in the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, as British Columbia announced its rollout plan for the doses aimed at protecting workers in industries which have suffered outbreaks and where quarantining may be difficult.
In her opening remarks on Monday, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said she had confidence that all vaccines available in the province, including AstraZeneca are "safe and effective."
“Your risk of having the vaccine is dramatically decreased compared to the risk of having COVID-19,” Henry said.
Her comments echoed those made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as Canada’s top doctor, after more European countries, including France and Germany temporary suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Those countries join a number of others, including Denmark, Norway, Ireland and the Netherlands, which have halted the use of the shot in order to investigate cases of blood clots in patients who received the vaccine.
AstraZeneca has said there is no cause for concerns, while the World Health Organization and European Medicines Agency say there is no evidence the vaccine caused the clots and people should continue to be immunized.
“Health Canada, and our experts and scientists have spent an awful lot of time making sure that every vaccine approved in Canada is both safe and effective,” Trudeau said Monday in Montreal. “Therefore, the best vaccine for you to take is the very first one that is offered to you.”
According to Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer none of the batches of the vaccine under investigation in Europe were shipped to Canada.
And Dr. Henry added: “17 million doses of AstraZeneca have been given. And so far we’ve seen 37 cases of these blood clots in different ways have been detected. This is lower than we might see, even in the general population, without vaccination.”
Meanwhile, B.C. announced its rollout plan for the AstraZeneca vaccine which health officials say will be done on a parallel track to the current phased vaccine rollout for Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which are chief guided by age.
Instead, the health ministry announced in a news release, AstraZeneca doses will be given to workers in industries “where full use of personal protective equipment and barriers can be challenging, outbreaks and clusters have occurred or are ongoing, and workers must live or work in congregate settings.”
- food processing plants, including poultry, fruit and fish processing;
- agricultural operations with congregate worker accommodations, including farms, nurseries and greenhouses;
- large industrial camps under the PHO Industrial Camps order with congregate accommodations for workers; and
- other large congregate living settings for workers where isolation and quarantine is difficult and outbreaks are ongoing.
"Immunizing workers in these settings will not only protect workers, it will also protect the communities around them, including many rural, remote and Indigenous communities,” the release read.
To date, B.C. has administered over 409,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, including over 87,000 second doses.
Four COVID-19 vaccines have been approved by federal health regulators for use in Canada.