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Quebec halts use of AstraZeneca vaccine for anyone under age 55

A healthcare worker holds up a vial of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, Thursday, March 18, 2021. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Quebec is hitting pause on administering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for those who are 55 and younger as other provinces do the same across the country.

The move, which was announced by the province Monday afternoon, comes amid guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) as well as Quebec’s own vaccination committee.

Over the course of the inoculation campaign, 111,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered in Quebec.

“Note that some vaccination appointments could be postponed, depending on the availability of doses,” the province’s health ministry said in a statement.

“An update of the vaccination schedule for people who have received a dose of Covishield will be known shortly.”

READ MORE: AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine not recommended for those under 55, NACI says

The province says the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine will last until further notice, pending “expert assessments.” Quebec, however, is still on track to issue a first shot to anyone adult who wants one by June 24 — a promise made by Premier François Legault earlier this month.

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Health Minister Christian Dubé described the decision as a precaution, saying that no “thrombosis-like events” related to the vaccine have been reported in the province.

Quebec isn’t the only province to suspend use of the vaccine. Prince Edward Island has stopped its use of the shot for those aged 18 to 29.

Last week, Health Canada issued a new warning about blood clotting but stressed reports of those events were nonexistent in the country and very rare elsewhere.

Quebec’s decision comes as Dubé announced on Monday that the province has officially entered a third wave of the pandemic.

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With files from Global News’ Amanda Connolly and The Canadian Press

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