WINNIPEG -- Manitoba is halting AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccinations for people under the age of 55 because of rare but dangerous blood clots seen in women in Europe as a side effect of the vaccination.

Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead for the Vaccination Implementation Taskforce, said the benefits of the vaccine for those older than 55 years old outweigh the risks associated with the immunization.

“At this time, the benefits of the vaccine for people who are 55 to 64 still outweigh the risks, even those that I just described, because the serious side effect has been appearing more often in younger people. And at the same time, for people who are older than 55, the risk of COVID infection goes up substantially,” said Reimer.

The change is effective immediately. Currently, the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD shots are available through medical clinics and pharmacies. Reimer said the province is speaking to those partners so they can adjust their vaccination plans.

Anyone who has made an appointment, who doesn’t fall into the new under 55-year-old requirement will be contacted to cancel their appointment.

“This is a pause while we wait for more information to better understand what we are seeing in Europe,” said Reimer. “This is an important and evidence-based change that Manitoba is putting in place today. We have to respond to what we know when we know it in this vaccine campaign, which does sometimes mean adjusting our plans in real-time,”

Reimer said these rare but serious blood clots affect about one in 100,000 to one in 1,000,000 people who have received the vaccine. The symptoms mirror those of a heart attack or stroke and occur four to 20 days after immunization.

“Now whether or not you've had the vaccine. If you're having symptoms that look like a stroke or a heart attack, you should seek immediate medical attention. But to be clear, if you have had the vaccine, we do want you as well to seek medical attention if you experience those severe symptoms,” said Reimer.

So far, there haven’t been any reported cases of the blood clot in Manitoba or Canada. Reimer said the situation is evolving rapidly, with reports of the side effect beginning about 10 days ago.

“The analysis has been quick, but it's also been thorough. And so, I know that what I tell you today, may change by the time we have our next press conference on Wednesday. But I want Manitobans to be as up to date as we are.”

So far, the province has administered at least 14,000 doses out of the 18,000 it has received.  


One of the priority conditions for AstraZeneca in Manitoba was pregnant women with pre-existing conditions.

One Manitoba woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she received the AstraZeneca vaccine 10 days ago and she has not felt any symptoms out of the ordinary.

"Soreness where you got the vaccine and then the next day just having those aches and chills, but those resolved within the day," the woman said.

The woman, who is pregnant, said all the options were weighed with her medical team before she actually received the shot.

"It was something, we didn't take it lightly."

She said hearing the news on Monday was scary and left her with several unknowns, but at the same time isn't questioning her decision.

"I feel fine. I feel like the risk is still very low. I don't regret or don't think I didn't make the right decision. Right now, I'm more so worried about what that second dose is going to look like and if I'm at jeopardy of not receiving that now."

Now, she said she has heightened awareness, making sure everyone that she comes in contact with at her medical appointments knows she’s received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

She said everyone has to make decisions with the information that they have at the time and they can't beat themselves up if information changes, adding people need to do what is best for them.