B.C. woman being treated for rare vaccine-related blood clot

B.C. reported its first case of a vaccine-induced blood clot on Thursday, the same day the two millionth B.C. resident received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, said a woman in her 40s who received the AstraZeneca vaccine had a rare adverse reaction called vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia. The blood clots generally develop four to 28 days after vaccination.

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The B.C. woman’s reaction happened about four to five days following vaccination. She visited her family doctor, who recognized the symptoms. A blood test confirmed the diagnosis and the patient was sent for treatment.

Henry said the woman is stable and is in hospital in Vancouver Coastal Health.

“This is something that we know is rare, but it’s associated with the AstraZeneca vaccines that we have been receiving here in Canada,” Henry said.

Research from around the world suggests the likelihood of such a clot is about one in 100,000 doses, she said.

There is a test that can determine if a person has the syndrome and there is treatment, said Henry. “But of course, recognizing symptoms and getting treatment early is important.”

AstraZeneca is one of three vaccines being offered in the province. The others are made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Henry reassured those who have received AstraZeneca that it is safe and effective and said anyone who has had an adverse reaction should seek help.

“Take a deep breath and be reassured that this is rare, that physicians know what to do and that if you have any concerns that you contact your health-care providers — you can go to the emergency department if it’s severe — and also you can call 811, and we can get you assessed and treated if needed,” she said.

Symptoms to look for post-vaccination include severe headache, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe abdominal pain and swelling or redness, said Henry. “These are the things that should provoke you to get treatment, and assessment right away.”

Henry said her family and friends have received the AstraZeneca vaccine along with millions of others around the world. “And I am confident that they have done the right thing to protect themselves.”

Of the 694 new cases announced in B.C. on Thursday, 445 were in Fraser Health. Island Health had the fewest, with 17.

There are 6,802 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., of whom 457 are in hospital, including 154 in intensive or critical care. Daily case counts, hospitalization and ICU admissions are all down from recent weeks.

There are four outbreaks in long-term care, assisted living and independent living in the province and three acute care facilities.

There has been one more death, in Interior Health, for a total of 1,595 in the province to date.

“Today two million doses will be in people’s arms here in B.C.,” said Henry. “We need to keep this momentum going.”

COVID-19 vaccines are now being booked for people 49 and older.

“With the vaccines that we have been receiving this week, we’re now in a place where we can move very quickly down these age groups,” said Henry.

It is important for people to register on the province’s Get Vaccinated website or to call 1-833-838-2323 and register, she said.

The province has been ramping up appeals to get more people registered, and more than 178,000 have done so in the past three days, said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

So far, 2.1 million people have registered. There are 4.3 million in B.C. who are eligible for the vaccine.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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