COVID-19: Londoners urged to take advantage of expanded access to AstraZeneca vaccine

In this Monday, March 22, 2021 file photo, medical staff prepares an AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine during preparations at the vaccine center in Ebersberg near Munich, Germany. AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, File

London’s deputy mayor and the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s medical officer of health are both urging those born in 1981 or earlier to take advantage of expanded access to COVID-19 vaccine at local pharmacies.

Ontario and Alberta announced on Sunday that they would be expanding the age eligibility for the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to those age 40 and older, down from 55 and older, with Manitoba following suit on Monday and Saskatchewan taking it under consideration.

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Deputy mayor Josh Morgan says “the expanded eligibility at pharmacies will open up to a larger number of Londoners. And for those who can take advantage of using that platform, they certainly should.”

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A recent Ipsos poll done exclusively for Global News showed that 64 per cent of Canadians thought their decision to get the vaccine would depend on what type of vaccine they were offered, while over eight in 10 stated they should be able to choose which vaccine they received.

The strong sentiments Canadians felt in their choice of a vaccine comes after extremely rare reports of blood clotting disorders arose from recipients administered either the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccine.

However, British researchers reported last week that the risk of the blood clotting disorder, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), was 8-10 times higher following COVID-19 infection than it was from existing vaccines for the disease. The researchers also suggested that debate around vaccines was distracting from how bad the disease can be.

Read more: Alberta reports first AstraZeneca-linked blood clot

Mackie cautioned against waiting for access to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, stressing that all vaccines approved for use in Canada are safe and effective.

“We will not be able to open up to all Middlesex-London residents over age 16 any time soon. We still have people with high-risk health care conditions to go through, that’s probably tens of thousands in this region. We still have the people who can’t work from home as another category in phase two, they will be tens of thousands as well in this region,” he explained.

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“So please don’t wait for Pfizer to become available to you. If AstraZeneca is available, go grab that and get yourself vaccinated. You’ll be a lot safer.”

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The MLHU is currently administering the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to those age 60 and over, as well as to other groups that meet specific eligibility criteria, at a handful of vaccination clinics.

Roughly 45 pharmacies in the region are offering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. More information on how to find a pharmacy and book an appointment can be found on the province’s website.

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— with files from Global News’ David Lao and Reuters’ Alistair Smout.

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