FREDERICTON (GNB) – Public Health confirmed today the death of a New Brunswicker, 60-69, who experienced a rare blood clot associated with low platelets known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), following vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

“On behalf of all New Brunswickers, I extend heartfelt sympathies to the loved ones of this person,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. “While this death is truly tragic, it is important to remember that the risks of dying from COVID-19 are far greater than the risks associated with receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. I encourage everyone who is eligible to listen to the advice of Public Health and get vaccinated.”

The person received the AstraZeneca vaccine in mid-April and developed symptoms seven days later. They went to an emergency room for treatment and died two days later in hospital.

“I offer my sincere condolences to the bereaved family and friends,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “Out of the hundreds of thousands of doses of AstraZeneca vaccine administered as part of the country’s massive vaccination campaign, there will be rare cases where thrombosis will occur. However, the risks remain minimal compared to the risks, complications and potential consequences of COVID-19.”

Today’s announcement marks the second confirmed case in New Brunswick of rare blood clots with low platelets following vaccination.

Public Health reminds New Brunswickers to seek immediate medical attention after receiving the AstraZeneca or Covishield vaccine if the following symptoms develop between four to 28 days after vaccination:

  • shortness of breath;
  • chest pain;
  • leg swelling;
  • persistent abdominal pain;
  • neurological symptoms, such as severe and persistent worsening headaches or blurred vision; or
  • skin bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of the injection.

Based upon the advice of Public Health, the AstraZeneca vaccine will continue to be provided to New Brunswickers 55 and older, because the impact of severe illness caused by COVID-19 is considered greater than the risk of adverse outcomes of the vaccine. The provincial government will continue to assess the use of this vaccine, based upon expert advice and an assessment of risks and benefits to residents.