Under-40s To Be Offered Alternative Vaccines To AstraZeneca Over Blood Clot Concerns
Alternative jabs will be offered to those aged under-40 (PA)
People aged under-40 will be offered alternative vaccines to the AstraZeneca jab as a precaution against rare blood clots, government scientists have announced.
The new advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) extends advice made earlier this year which called for those aged under-30 to be offered alternative jabs.
Speaking on Friday, Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said their position on the vaccine's safety remained "unchanged" and that the "benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 with the associated risks of hospitalisation and death continue to outweigh the risks of the vaccine for the vast majority of people. There is therefore no change to the approval."
But she added that while the balance for risks and benefits for the use of the AstraZeneca jab among older people remained "very favourable" it was more "finely balanced" among younger people.
Dr Raine said the MHRA had received 242 reports of blood clots alongside low blood platelet count in the UK among the 28.5 million doses given in the UK.
From those cases there had been 49 deaths.
Meanwhile, Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 co-ordinator for the JCVI, said the updated advice had been put into place as a precaution and because there were several alternatives to the AstraZeneca jab.
"We have continued to assess the benefit/risk balance of Covid-19 vaccines in light of UK infection rates and the latest information from the MHRA on the extremely rare event of blood clots and low platelet counts following vaccination," he said.
"As Covid-19 rates continue to come under control, we are advising that adults aged 18 to 39 years with no underlying health conditions are offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, if available and if it does not cause delays in having the vaccine."
He added: "Building on our previous advice related to those age 30 years and under, we now advise that unvaccinated adults aged 30 to 39 years, who do not have an underlying health condition that puts them at higher risk severe COVID-19 should be preferentially offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine, where this is possible, and only where no substantial delay in access to vaccination might arise."
But the JCVI scientist said those who had already recevied their first dose of the AstraZeneca jab should still attend their second vaccine appointment when offered it.
England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam said he did not believe the decision would alter the plans to offer all adults a first dose of a Covid-19 jab by the end of July.