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New Brunswick reports first case of 'rare blood clot' related to AstraZeneca vaccine

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick confirmed on Tuesday a first case in the province a patient experiencing blood clots after receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The patient in their 30s received the vaccine in mid-March, before its use was limited to people over the age of 55, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said in a statement, adding that the individual has recovered.

She said health officials have confirmed “a case of a rare blood clot associated with low platelets known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia.”

"While every adverse reaction is unfortunate, it is important to remember that these blood clots are extremely rare," Russell later told reporters in Fredericton. "The vaccine helps prevent the much higher risks associated with COVID-19 infections."

She said New Brunswick will continue to provide the AstraZeneca vaccine to people 55 and older.

New Brunswick on Tuesday reported no new cases of COVID-19 for the first time in more than one month. The province has 139 active reported infections and 21 patients in hospital with the disease, including eight in intensive care.

A portion of the Edmundston region in the northwestern part of New Brunswick has been under a lockdown for 10 days and has the majority of the active reported cases in the province.

Russell said travel continues to be the biggest factor in the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Travel is riskier now than at any other time during the pandemic,” she said. “If you are going to travel, you must be prepared to properly self-isolate away from your loved ones for an entire two-week period. If you can’t do that, then you really shouldn’t travel.”

Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said the Atlantic premiers may delay the reopening of the regional travel bubble beyond May 3. The bubble would allow residents of Atlantic Canada to travel freely between the four provinces without having to isolate.

Shephard said people 65 and older in New Brunswick can now schedule an appointment for their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. There will be 19,000 spaces available at clinics over the next two weeks, she added.

Meanwhile, Shephard said she has issued a call for health-care workers available to respond to a request for help from Ontario Premier Doug Ford. Ontario is hard-hit by a third wave of COVID-19 that is putting its health-care system under tremendous strain.

“We are seeking individuals who have the necessary skills and are able to go to Ontario to assist with their health-care efforts,” Shephard said. “Specifically, Ontario is in need of nurses, respiratory therapists, perfusionists and anesthesia assistants.

“While New Brunswick does not have the available resources within the regional health authorities, any health-care workers who are retired or working outside the health-care system are being encouraged to assist,” the minister said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 20, 2021.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press