AstraZeneca vaccine now available to B.C. residents over 40

Registration for vaccines will be open to everyone older than 18 by Friday

The Oxford-AstraZeneca ­vaccine is now available to ­people age 40 and older in B.C.

Concerns about rare ­vaccine-induced blood clots had prompted the government to limit the use of the vaccine to people between the ages of 55 and 65.

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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the change in policy was based in part on a growing number of hospitalizations, particularly in younger age groups.

“I’m confident that the benefits of this vaccine far outweigh the very rare risk of these blood clots,” she said.

“We’re going to be targeting our program in B.C. to people age 40, right now, to try and prevent hospitalizations in the next few weeks.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been shown to reduce COVID-19 infections by 60 to 70 per cent and severe outcomes by 80 per cent.

Alberta is also making it available to younger people, as are Ontario, Quebec and ­Manitoba.

More than 114,000 doses of AstraZeneca have been administered in B.C. — 91,000 through pharmacies — and about 88,000 doses remain in the system. B.C. has immediate access to an ­additional 75,000 doses of ­AstraZeneca from the United States.

The vaccine will be made available to people 40 and older in 13 high-risk communities, none of which are in Island Health. Information on this program can be found at gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/neighbourhood.

It is also available through the pharmacy-based immunization program. To book an appointment at a pharmacy, go to ­bcpharmacy.ca or call your local pharmacy.

All adults will be able to register by the end of the week for their vaccination through the age-based program, which runs in parallel to the pharmacy ­program:

• Born in 1986 or earlier (age 35+). Registration opens Tuesday at noon.

• Born in 1991 or earlier (age 30+). Registration opens ­Wednesday at noon.

• Born in 1996 or earlier (age 25+). Registration opens Thursday at noon.

• Born in 2003 or earlier (age 18+). Registration opens ­Friday at noon.

To register for the age-based program, go to gov.bc.ca/­getvaccinated, call 1-833-838-2323, or visit a Service B.C. office.

— With a file from Andrew A. Duffy

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