The family of a Quebec woman who developed blood clots and died after receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is urging people to stay alert for symptoms and get help right away if they surface.
Francine Boyer was identified by her family in a statement issued late Tuesday.
“It is with great sorrow that Mr. Alain Serres confirms the death of his wife, Mrs. Francine Boyer, 54, on April 23 at the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital,” the statement said.
Quebec public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda told a news conference Tuesday he believes Boyer is the first person in Canada whose death can be potentially linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Authorities have stressed that serious side effects are very rare and the risks of COVID-19 are far greater than the small chance of developing complications from the vaccine.
Health Canada has authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine for people 18 and up after concluding it is safe and effective despite evidence suggesting it may cause blood clots in rare cases. A national advisory panel has suggested the shot can be offered to those 30 and over if they don’t want to wait for a different vaccine.
Quebec is administering the vaccine to people between the ages of 45 and 79 and Arruda said Tuesday the province will continue that strategy.
By vaccinating, “we are sure we are preventing more deaths and more complications from the disease,” he said.
Boyer and her husband received the AstraZeneca vaccine on April 9, and in the days that followed, she began to experience headaches and severe fatigue. The statement said Serres did not develop side effects.
She went to a nearby hospital before being transferred to the Montreal Neurological Institute as her condition worsened; she died of a cerebral thrombosis on April 23.
An online obituary says Boyer was originally from Saint-Remi, Que., south of Montreal, and was a mother and a grandmother.
Her family has asked for privacy and has encouraged anyone who experiences side effects from the vaccine to seek medical help using the province’s phone help line.
“Ms. Boyer’s family would like to encourage people who receive a vaccine to stay alert for symptoms or unusual reactions and to contact Info-Sante (811) if in doubt,” the statement read.
Premier Francois Legault said Tuesday Boyer’s death was “hard to take.”
“I’m sad to know that a 54-year-old woman, in good shape â¦ died because she was vaccinated,” he said, adding that serious complications only occur in about one out of every 100,000 people.
Meanwhile, the province reported 1,094 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and 12 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including three in the last 24 hours. Hospitalization dropped by 24, to 643, while the number of people in intensive care dropped by nine, to 161.
The province administered 48,492 doses in the last 24 hours, for a total of 2,967,209. The vaccine program has expanded to include pregnant women, who became eligible to book an appointment on Wednesday morning.