On Friday Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI) updated its recommendations for the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine COVISHIELD to include Canadians in the 30 plus age group.

In a statement posted on the government’s website, the advisory body said: “At this time and based on current evidence, NACI recommends that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine may be offered to individuals 30 years of age and older without contraindications, if the individual does not wish to wait for an mRNA vaccine and the benefits outweigh the risk.

“NACI has updated its recommendations on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in light of a rare but serious condition being referred to as Vaccine-Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT). Using the most recent data available, NACI assessed the benefits of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in saving lives and protecting populations against serious complications of COVID-19 and the risks of VITT,” the statement read.

Recognizing the importance of providing clear information that supports informed decision-making with regard to vaccine choices, the advisory body said that “Canadians should expect to see NACI modify its guidance as new evidence becomes available”.

However NACI also said that it continues to “preferentially recommend authorized mRNA COVID-19 vaccines due to the excellent protection they provide, the absence of safety signals of concern and the acceptability of the vaccines by people in Canada”.

Health Canada has already approved the AstraZeneca vaccine for adult Canadians 18 years and older.

Dr. Supriya Sharma, the agency’s chief medical adviser, said earlier that while Health Canada has updated warnings on the vaccine’s label “so that Canadians can be informed of the side effects”, there was no need to further restrict its usage.

She had also said that NACI would be meeting again to discuss the vaccine’s age recommendations.

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