Dr. Robert Strang at the COVID-19 briefing, March 30, 2021. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

At today’s COVID briefing, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang had this to say about the latest news concerning the AstraZeneca vaccine:

In the past few weeks, there has been an increasing number of reports from Europe rare but serious cases of blood clots associated with low levels of the cells that help the blood clots, platelets. And this is following immunization with AstraZeneca vaccine. Most of the cases have been in women under age 55, and about 40% of them have died at this time.

A definitive link between the vaccine in the blood clotting events has not been made, but it is very suggestive. We know that so far there there have been no similar blood clotting events reported in Canada and no blood clotting events reported anywhere in the world with the RNA vaccines.

Health Canada announced yesterday that it is requiring AstraZeneca manufacturers to conduct a detailed assessment of the benefits and risks of the vaccine by age and gender in the Canadian context. Health Canada will use this information along with further international evidence to determine if additional regulatory actions are necessary.

In the interim, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended an immediate pause in the use of AstraZeneca vaccine in all individuals under age 55 in Canada. Canada’s chief medical officers of health are fully supportive of this recommendation and are collectively taking action. In each of our own provinces, anyone 55 or over can still get this vaccine if given the choice, as the benefits of getting the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the increased risk of COVID-19 in older adults.

This change does not mean that the AstraZeneca vaccine isn’t safe or isn’t a good vaccine. It means that we are seeing something rare in a certain subset of the population that we need to monitor and get more information about. Until we do that, the safest, most transparent thing to do is to limit the use of the vaccine.

I know that this may be scary for people, especially if they have had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine already. But we’re fortunate that in Nova Scotia, our use of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been focused on those aged 60 to 64, which is well within the age range recommended for use. And when we get more AstraZeneca vaccine in Nova Scotia, we will continue to focus on the ages 55 to 64 for those who feel this vaccine is right for them.

Anyone who has received the AstraZeneca vaccine in the last 20 days and anyone vaccinated with it going forward should monitor for symptoms and seek immediate medical attention in the unlikely event they develop any of the following: shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain, sudden onset of severe or persistent worsening headaches or blurred vision, and skin bruising other than at the sight of vaccination. We will have this information on our website. We’re in the process of sending out detailed information to health care providers on this in the Nova Scotia health care system and all those symptoms I listed. And anyone with these symptoms, whether they have recently received the AstraZeneca vaccine or not, these are serious symptoms and anyone getting these should seek urgent medical attention.

The response to AstraZeneca is exactly how the safety system is meant to work. When we have a serious safety signal, we will take precautionary steps and continue to monitor evolving science and evidence. And we will always keep Nova Scotia informed about any significant adverse events that may impact the use of the vaccine so Nova Scotia can make informed choices.

Today’s numbers

Three new cases of COVID-19 are announced in Nova Scotia today (Tuesday, March 30).

One of the cases is in Nova Scotia’s Health Central Zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case. The second case is in Northern Zone and is currently under investigation. The third case is in Eastern Zone and is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.

Of the new cases, one is a man aged 20-39, one is a woman aged 40-59, and one is a woman aged 60-79.

There remain 24 known active cases in the province. One person is in hospital with the disease, but not in ICU.

The active cases are distributed as follows:

• 7 in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 7 in the Dartmouth/Southeastern Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 3 in the Bedford/Sackville Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 1 in the Colchester/East Hants Community Health Network in the Northern Zone
• 2 in the Inverness, Victoria, and Richmond Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 1 in the Annapolis and Kings Community Health Network in the Western Zone

Three cases are not assigned to a Community Health Network.

Nova Scotia Health labs completed 2,572 tests yesterday.

Pop-up testing has been scheduled for:

Wednesday: Mount Saint Vincent University, Rosaria Hall, 10am-5pm
Thursday: Mount Saint Vincent University, Rosaria Hall, 11am-7pm
Thursday: Wolfville & District Lions Club, 10am-5:30pm
Friday: Wolfville & District Lions Club, 11am-7pm

You can also get tested at the Nova Scotia Health labs by going here.

End of day Monday, 94,373 doses of vaccine have been administered — 69,271 first doses and 25,102 second doses

People who are 75 or over can book a vaccine appointment here.

Here are the new daily cases and seven-day rolling average (today at 3.3) since the start of the second wave (Oct. 1):

And here is the active caseload for the second wave:

Last night, Nova Scotia Health issued the following potential exposure advisories:

Anyone who worked at or visited the following locations on the specified dates and times should immediately visit covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to book a COVID-19 test,regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you are required to self-isolate while you wait for your test result. If you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 you do not need to self-isolate while you wait for your test result.
  • Chapters Dartmouth (41 Micmac Blvd, Dartmouth) on March 21 between 1:40 p.m. and 2:55 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 4.
  • Walmart Dartmouth Crossing (90 Lamont Terrace, Dartmouth) on March 21 between 2:15 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 4.
  • Dollarama Bedford Commons Plaza (85 Damascus Rd, Bedford) on March 21 between 3:25 p.m. and 4:35 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 4.
  • Superstore Elmsdale (295 NS-214 Elmsdale) on March 27 between 6 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 10.
  • Pizza Delight Elmsdale Plaza (269 NS-214 Elmsdale) on March 27 between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, April 10.

Here is the updated potential COVID exposure advisory map:


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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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