EDMONTON, AB – Starting Tuesday, Alberta is expanding the provincial COVID-19 vaccination program for the AstraZeneca shot.

As of April 20th, anyone who is 40 years of age and older will be eligible.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NCA) had been recommending the vaccine only be used in those 55 and older. That’s because of reports of a handful of cases of rare blood clots among the tens of millions of doses administered around the world.

But Health Canada says the vaccine is safe to use and the risk of blood clots is actually far higher among those who contract COVID-19.

Several other provinces are dropping the eligibility for AstraZeneca there too.

Premier Jason Kenney says the decision is based on the advice of Alberta’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Doctor Deena Hinshaw.

Lowering the eligibility age means over 575,000 more Albertans can be vaccinated, bringing the total eligible population to 2.3 million.

Dr. Hinshaw is recommending any Albertan who is 40 or older consider getting the AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as possible. “I know some Albertans have concerns about recent cases of blood clots. This is understandable, and it is also important to remember that these cases are extremely rare. This vaccine helps prevent the much higher risks that come from COVID-19 infection, helping to protect both you and those around you.”

People eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine can book appointment online here: Alberta COVID-19 Immunizations