A man in his 60s is the first Albertan to be diagnosed with a blood clot linked to AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, the province's top doctor announced.
Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the details of the case of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) on Saturday morning.
There are no details about where the patient lives in the province but Hinshaw said he has "received treatment and is recovering."
"The Alberta case marks the second case of VITT out of more than 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca or CoviSHIELD/AstraZeneca that have been administered in Canada to date. This does not change the risk assessment previously communicated to Albertans," she wrote in a statement.
Health officials are continuing to monitor the safety of AstraZeneca as well as all the other vaccines currently in service, she adds, and the risk of blood clots remain "extremely rare."
"This vaccine helps prevent the much higher risks that come from COVID-19 infection," she said.
"The global frequency of VITT has been estimated at approximately one case in 100,000 to 250,000 doses of vaccine. In comparison, Albertans 55 and older who are diagnosed with COVID-19 have a one in 200 chance of dying from that infection. They are also at least 1,500 times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 than experiencing VITT after getting AstraZeneca."
But despite the math, many Canadians are still hesitant about receiving the shot.
Only about a third of Alberta's available doses of AstraZeneca have been administered, and two vaccination clinics that opened Saturday in Calgary and Edmonton reported low traffic.
"The only waiting was when you have to sit down for fifteen minutes after getting the vaccine," recipient Kathy Austin told CTV News. "I was hesitant at first but I'm happy I came."
Health officials in the province -- led by Hinshaw -- continue to recommend the vaccine for anyone who is 55 and older.
"(I) recommend that all Albertans get vaccinated as soon as they are able. It is the best way to protect your health and the health of those around you."
Despite Saturday's announcement, more experts are calling for eligibility adjustments so younger people who want AstraZeneca could have a chance to receive an unused dose.
"If that (clinic vaccination) blitz isn't happening, I really think they should open it up so that vaccine isn't being wasted," physician Christine Gibson said.
Appointments for those who are currently eligible are available online.
Canada's first case of VITT was in a Quebec woman, who was diagnosed on April 13.