It has been announced today that adult Britons under the age of 30 will be offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine where possible.
The decision follows advice after a review by the drugs regulator, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), found that by the end of March, 79 people in the UK suffered rare blood clots after receiving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and 19 of whom died.
The regulator has said that this was not proof that the jab had caused the clots, however.
It said that the side-effects were extremely rare, the vaccine’s effectiveness was proven, and the benefits of taking the vaccine were still very favourable for the vast majority.
But it did confirm the link was getting firmer.
Dr June Raine – Chief Executive of the MHRA – confirmed a total of 51 women and 28 men aged 18 to 79 were affected by blood clots, and of those 19 people who have sadly died, three were under the age of 30.
“The risk is four people in a million,” Dr Raine said.
She also urged anybody suffering the following side effects four days after getting the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab to seek medical attention:
- Blurred vision
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Leg swelling
- Abdominal pain
- Bruising or pinpoint spots beyond the vaccination site
Professor Lim Wei Shen – Chair of COVID-19 Immunisation at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – assured that the decision to prioritise a different jab for under 30s was made “out of utmost caution rather than because we have any serious safety concerns”.
England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, has said the new advice is a “course correction” for the UK’s “very successful” vaccine rollout.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously during a visit to Cornwall earlier today that the government believes the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is “safe”, but added: “The crucial thing for everybody is to listen to what the scientists [and] the medical experts have to say later on today.”
The decision to offer under-30s an alternative jab where possible also arrives on the day that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine rollout began across the UK.
For the latest information, guidance and support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the UK, please do refer to official sources at gov.uk/coronavirus.