COVID-19: Hinshaw to give update Tuesday afternoon

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Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is scheduled to provide an update on COVID-19 in the province Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier Tuesday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said people over the age of 65 can receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

The body said there is now enough “real-world evidence” to show the vaccine is both safe and effective for seniors, a reversal of a previous recommendation that said people over the age of 65 should not receive the dose because AstraZeneca had not included enough people in that age group in its clinical trials.

Still, NACI said the mRNA vaccines – Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech – should be prioritized for use on seniors.

Several European countries also reversed the recommendation against using AstraZeneca on seniors, including France, Germany and Italy.

Many experts say that despite some differences among the vaccines available, all that have been approved are safe and effective against COVID-19 and the best one to get is the first one you’re offered.

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Some countries in Europe have halted the use of AstraZeneca amid reports of blood clots from patients who had received the dose. Health Canada’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma said last week there is no biological evidence that would show how the vaccine could cause blood clots.

In addition, the AstraZeneca doses Canada has received were made in India, whereas the doses in question were produced in European facilities.

In Alberta on Monday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the medical conditions that will be eligible for Phase 2B of the province’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which will run during April and June. They include cancer, chronic heart, liver or lung disease, people with chronic kidney disease that needs regular monitoring, people with neurological and neuromuscular diseases, pregnant women and those with severe obesity. A full list of those eligible is listed online.

Phase 2C, which is also scheduled to run between April and June, will include staff and residents at congregate living and working settings including jails, homeless shelters, meatpacking facilities and group homes for those living with mental health disorders. Health-care workers on reserves, health-care workers in patient care facilities or those in direct patient care in the community and caregivers for those most at risk will also be eligible.

Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and all other regulated health-care professionals and their staff will also be eligible. Students taking placement practicums in clinical settings will also be included.

Alberta will be operating on an honour system and doctors’ notes will not be needed to receive a dose.

Alberta Health confirmed Monday the province still plans to offer a first dose of vaccination to all Albertans over the age of 18 by the end of June.

Hinshaw will speak at 4 p.m.

More to come

With files from The Canadian Press

For more on Alberta’s vaccine rollout, read our guide driven by reader questions. 

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