François Legault Quebec AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccine

François Legault: Quebec has had no problems with AstraZeneca

The risk of developing serious side effects has been compared to the risk of being struck by lightning.

During yesterday’s press conference, Quebec Premier François Legault addressed concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine, which public health (on the federal as well as the provincial level) has decided to suspend for individuals 55 and under. Legault reiterated that there have been no instances of serious side effects in the province, and that the extra precaution is being taken due to a risk/benefit analysis that suggests the vaccine not be administered to people under the age of 55.

“In Quebec, we have had no problems with the AstraZeneca vaccine. There is a minimal risk for certain people below the age of 55. It is a precaution that public health is telling us that we are going to suspend the handing out of the AstraZeneca vaccine to people 55 and under. Public health has told us that it is completely safe for people 55 and over. So that is very important to say to the public.”

—François Legault

A few cases of serious blood clots have been reported in some European and Scandinavian countries among people who’ve been administered doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine 4 to 20 days prior. Most of these people have been women under 55, though that age group (the majority of the healthcare worker demographic) has received millions of doses of the vaccine. AstraZeneca is the primary brand being used in the U.K., where over 11 million doses have been administered since December.

According to Carleton University professor Josh Greenberg, the actual level of risk is not certain, and seems to change “based on the estimates of the day.” These numbers have ranged from 1 in 25,000 to 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 1,000,000. 1 in 100,000 represents approximately the same level of risk as your chance of getting struck by lightning in your lifetime.

Health Canada has asked AstraZeneca to provide more data to clarify the risk.

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