New Brunswick reports its first death due to blood clotting from AstraZeneca vaccine

HALIFAX — New Brunswick health officials are reporting a person in the province has died due to blood clotting from the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, but still recommending its use.

This is the second case of blood clotting from the AstraZeneca vaccine in the province, but the first death from the resulting Thrombosis-thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

New Brunswick Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell started Wednesday’s media conference by extending her condolences to the family of the deceased, who she said was in their 60s.

“Your loss is deeply felt by all of your fellow New Brunswickers,” said Russell.

Russell said the person was given a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in mid-April, and developed symptoms of TTS seven days after immunization.

The person went to an emergency room for treatment, was admitted, and passed away two days later.

Citing privacy concerns, Russell said she could not release any further information about the deceased person, and did not answer when asked if the person had underlying health conditions.

PROVINCE SAYS RISK OF SERIOUS HARM STILL LOW

“I want to stress that medical complications following vaccination are extremely rare,” said Russell. “But, they do happen. Research shows that TTS will occur in one out of every 100 to 250 thousand doses of vaccine.”

Russell added the vast majority of AstraZeneca vaccinations have occurred without incident.

“We will continue to evaluate the use of this vaccine,” said Russell. “To ensure that risks associated with its use are proportional to the potential consequences of contracting COVID-19, becoming hospitalized, requiring ICU admission, and even death.”

To date, New Brunswick has received 48,000 doses of AstraZeneca for its inventory, including 100 this week.

“The risk is not zero, for people aged 55 and over,” said Russell. “But, the information that we have to this date is that the benefits outweigh the risks, and we will continue to evaluate the situation.”

Russell adds the province has administered 44,000 AstraZeneca doses so far.

“We have used this product prudently and keeping with medical evidence,” said Russell, citing information from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

During the question period at the end of Wednesday’s conference, Russell also dismissed an online rumour that claimed she had joined the NACI as a committee member.

Russell said the risk of serious harm from COVID-19 is greater than the risk of blood clots due to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“Everyone can, and should make an informed decision about the vaccine that they receive,” said Russell. “Ask questions about the relative risks, and benefits of each product.”

Russell added “however, I will tell you that the best vaccine you can get is the one you can get as fast as possible.”

SYMPTOMS OF TTS

Russell said those who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine, should monitor for the following symptoms between four and 28 days after vaccination:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Neurological symptoms including severe and persistent worsening headaches, blurred vision
  • Skin bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of injection

As of now, New Brunswick is offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone 55 and older.

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