The Conservative Party is calling for an emergency meeting of the Health Committee over the government’s plan to issue the AstraZeneca vaccine to seniors against expert advice.

Speaking on Tuesday, Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner says Canadians need answers on why the Trudeau government plans on issuing the vaccine despite protests from the medical community.

“Recent media reports have indicated that NACI has recommended against vaccinating Canadians over the age of 65 with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but Health Canada is planning to ignore this advice and proceed with recommending the vaccine be administered to this cohort,” she said.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI), the scientific body that reviews vaccines and advises the government on vaccine policy, is recommending against giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to seniors, citing “the insufficiency of evidence of efficacy in this age group at this time.”

Despite the warnings from NACI, Health Canada approved the vaccine for all adults on Friday.

Rempel Garner and the Conservatives on the health committee are calling for an emergency meeting on the AstraZeneca vaccine and want experts to testify on what options are best for Canadians.

Rempel Garner says the conflicting recommendations cause confusion and may increase vaccine hesitancy. Given the risks posed by coronavirus to seniors, she said the government needs to listen to vaccine experts.

“Canadians 65 years of age and older are some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19. Any vaccine provided to them must be done so in accordance with the best available evidence,” she said. 

“Conflicting advice from NACI and Health Canada on whether or not the AstraZeneca vaccine is sufficiently effective in this population must be clarified before the vaccine is delivered to the provinces and Canadians deserve to understand the impacts of this decision.

On Tuesday, Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro said the province will be following NACI’s advice and will not issue the AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over 65.

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