Canada’s top doctor said Friday that there have been no cases of a rare blood clotting syndrome from Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine so far in the country after U.S. regulators strictly limited its access.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in a press conference that she doesn’t expect the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to change its recommendations on the vaccine. It was fully approved in Canada in November 2021.
Her comments come after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that the shot should only be given to adults who specifically requested it or who cannot receive a vaccine from a different maker.
U.S. officials say that blood clots from the vaccine are rare but still occurring — of 60 cases reported as of mid-March, nine were fatal. The vaccine will now carry a more explicit warning in the U.S. on potential “long-term and debilitating health consequences.”
Tam, though, said that Canadian officials are satisfied with the current labeling and do not plan further changes. Canada updated the vaccine’s label in April 2021 to note the risk of blood clots, and again in November to add the autoimmune condition, immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), as a potential side effect.
Tam noted that the vaccine has been administered to around 8 million recipients in the U.S. and 40,000 in Canada, a small number compared to the 83 million total COVID vaccine doses given so far to Canadians, she said.
However, she said the issue should still be considered. “Like any safety signal, it needs to be taken seriously.”