Canada

COVID-19: Continued encouragement for Saskatchewan residents to get AstraZeneca vaccine

New mother Keira Sawatzky is eager to get her COVID-19 vaccine.

The 28-year-old Saskatoon woman isn’t eligible yet, but said she’ll take whatever shot she can get when the time comes.

“People don’t know what flu shot brand they’re getting, but they take that in a heartbeat,” Sawatzky told Global News.

On Tuesday, Saskatchewan announced it’s expanding eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 40 and older. Some people have been hesitant to get the shot, due to a possible link to rare blood clots.

Read more: COVID-19: Saskatchewan expands AstraZeneca age eligibility to 40, extends public health orders

Sawatzky said she wishes she could get the AstraZeneca vaccine to help protect her two-month-old daughter, Elizabeth.

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“I don’t want to take the risk of getting COVID as a tradeoff for a rare, rare, rare blood clot,” she said.

“The chances of getting COVID and giving it to her or getting sick and not being able to take care of her, that’s a real concern.”

Medical professionals have repeatedly said the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe.

“This blood clot issue has really been taken out of proportion and overblown,” Saskatoon hematologist Dr. Julie Stakiw said on Monday.

“We really need to get this very safe and effective vaccine into as many arms as possible.”

While the National Advisory Committee on Immunization is reviewing its recommendation not to use the AstraZeneca vaccine on people under 55, Health Canada has approved its use for people 18 and older.

Alberta, Ontario and Quebec have also lowered their age requirements for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Read more: Quebec drops minimum age to 45 for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, extends lockdown measures

“If it’s offered to you, take it,” said Stakiw said, a member of the province’s immunization clinical expert advisory group.

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Saskatoon epidemiologist Nazeem Muhajarine, 58, got the AstraZeneca vaccine last Friday.

Despite having blood clots in 2008 and 2019, Muhajarine said he didn’t hesitate to get the shot. He said he trusts the advice of medical professionals who say it’s safe for people with a history of blood clots.

“Whatever the first vaccine was going to be… available to me, I was going to take it,” he said.

He encourages other Saskatchewan residents to do the same.

“That is how we will come out of this pandemic sooner rather than later,” he said.

Kenney urges Albertans 40+ to get AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

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