AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine not recommended on 65 and older

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NACI is not recommending the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on people that are 65 or older

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine may not properly shield people of 65 and older, says the NACI. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) states that the evidence points to ‘insufficient efficacy’ in that age group. Therefore, the NACI is not recommending its use at this time on people aged 65 and over. Nonetheless, the NACI stresses this is not because of safety concerns based on clinical studies. Rather, the authorities should inoculate the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on people of 18 years of age and older, for starters.

Ongoing trials, Health Canada confirms, will show its efficacy on older age groups. Therefore, Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said on Monday that they will not give the AstraZeneca vaccine to those aged 65 and older. Canada is not alone in this decision. Other countries have also chosen not to administer this particular vaccine to the elderly.

Meanwhile, Health Canada is evaluating all available data from AstraZeneca clinical trials. While there is encouraging news from other countries of hospital admissions dropping following the first AstraZeneca administration, more study is needed. University of Toronto epidemiologist Colin Furness summarizes Canada’s view as: ‘It’s not to say that it doesn’t work, it’s that we’re not sure. It’s less convincing’.

Moreover, NACI is recommending administering the two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine a full 12 weeks apart to maximize efficiency. Many had high hopes for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, as it is significantly easier to administer than the Pfizer or Moderna doses. But health authorities want to be extra careful in terms of impact, as doses will arrive slowly. Canada will receive a total of 23.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. 20 million doses will arrive in April, with 500,000 shots arriving separately at the end of March.