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Nova Scotia’s health system began booking people aged 63 and 64 on Tuesday for the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on a first-come, first-served basis.

The province is partnering with pharmacists and doctors to provide the vaccines at 25 locations, with the first immunizations starting Saturday.

Nova Scotia has said the 13,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine it has available must be used by April 2.

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Some countries have paused use of the vaccine as European regulators review safety data following isolated reports of blood clots among recipients.

The company and Canadian regulators, however, continue to say the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe. Canada’s immunization advisory committee on Tuesday adjusted its guidance to say the vaccine is also safe and effective for people over the age of 65.

Nova Scotia reported two new COVID-19 infections Tuesday, both of which were identified in the health zone that includes Halifax. Health officials said one of the new cases involves a contact of a previously reported infection while the other remains under investigation.

Officials also reported four new variant cases in the province: two of the mutation first identified in the United Kingdom and two others involving the variant first detected in South Africa.

Nova Scotia has reported a total of 13 cases of the U.K. variant and 10 cases of the South African mutation, but officials say there is no sign of community spread. Nova Scotia has 17 active reported cases of COVID-19.

Canada's top doctor Theresa Tam says there is a need to collect and analyze data on the new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 to avoid new outbreaks. Tam says looking at the data coming from other countries is important but is not enough. The Canadian Press

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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