Patients aged 29 and under will be offered a different vaccine to the AstraZeneca jab, due to a small risk of blood clots, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has announced.
The announcement was made after a review by the UK drugs regulator found that by the end of March 79 people had suffered rare blood clots after vaccination, 19 of whom had died. The regulator said this was not proof the jab had caused the clots.
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‘Over 37 million doses of vaccines against COVID-19 have now been administered in the UK, saving thousands of lives through the biggest vaccination programme that has ever taken place in the UK,’ said Dr June Raine, MHRA Chief Executive.
‘No effective medicine or vaccine is without risk. We continually monitor safety during widespread use of any vaccine. This is to ensure vaccines are performing as expected, to identify any new side effects that may arise, and to ensure the benefits continue to outweigh the risks.’
According to the review, the 79 cases and 19 deaths occurred after 20 million doses were administered, giving a risk of about four in one million of developing a blood clot, and one in a million of dying. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of the cases of rare clots were seen in women, while the people who died were aged between 18 and 79, with three of them aged under 30.
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‘Everybody who has already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should receive a second dose of the same brand, irrespective of age, except for the very small number of people who experienced blood clots with low platelet counts from their first vaccination,’ said a government spokesperson.
‘The Government will follow today’s updated advice, which sets out that, as a precaution, it is preferable for people under the age of 30 with no underlying health conditions to be offered an alternative vaccine where possible once they are eligible. When people are called forward, they should get their jab. Vaccines are the best way out of this pandemic and provide strong protection against COVID-19.’
The MHRA has also stated that pregnancy predisposes to thrombosis, therefore women should discuss with their healthcare professional whether the benefits of having the vaccine outweigh the risks for them.