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Health Canada says AstraZeneca vaccine safe, effective but will add warning on clots

Dr. Supriya Sharma says the warning in Canada would centre on what to look for, including intense or persistent headaches, shortness of breath and pain in the legs
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OTTAWA — Health Canada is in the process of adding a warning about a rare possible side-effect of blood clots from the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine but is still certain the vaccine is safe and effective against COVID-19.

The department's chief medical adviser Dr. Supriya Sharma says the warning comes on the heels of a similar warning in Europe last week but doesn't change Health Canada's analysis that the vaccine's benefits outweigh its risks.

The European Medicines Agency last week amended its authorization of the vaccine to say there is not an overall increase in the risk of blood clots after getting the vaccine.

However the EMA and Health Canada are still analyzing data to see if there is a reason the vaccine may have caused a very small number of blood clots in the vein that drains blood from the brain.

Sharma says the warning in Canada would centre on what to look for, including intense or persistent headaches, shortness of breath and pain in the legs.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says Canada's vaccination program is moving much faster than before but warns there has been a 15 per cent rise in the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the last week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2021.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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