Why cant under the 40s have the AstraZeneca vaccine?

Jonathan Van-Tam says vaccine rollout 'must be finished'

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Advice was changed last month for all under 30s to be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine, but this has now been updated to all those under 40. The under 40s make up the next cohort to be called up for their coronavirus vaccine, but they will have to be administered with either the Pfizer or Moderna jab.

Why is an alternative being offered?

An alternative is being offered due to the rare blood clots formed in some recipients of the vaccine.

The UK’s medicines safety regulator says there have been 242 clotting cases and 49 deaths, out of 28.5 million doses of the vaccine administered in the UK.

The risk of such blood clots appears to be slighter higher in younger individuals.

A boost in the supply of alternative vaccines, including Pfizer and Moderna, has also meant there is room for change.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 chairman for JCVI, said: “Safety remains our number one priority.

“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.

“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.

“The advice is specific to circumstances in the UK at this time and maximises use of the wide portfolio of vaccines available.

“The COVID-19 vaccines have already saved thousands of lives and the benefit for the majority of the population is clear – if you are offered the vaccine, you should take it.”

These clots occurred in 141 women and 100 men aged from 18 to 93, with one further case in a person whose gender was not known, with 49 deaths.

Six cases have been reported after a second dose of the vaccine.

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Will this delay the vaccine rollout?

Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout is set to be delayed by several weeks due to changed advice, according to the head of the program.

Patricia Donnelly outlined the consequences of the new advice from the JCVI that people under 40 should be offered an alternative to AstraZeneca due to the blood clot link.

She said the decision had pushed the timeline for delivering all first doses back to potentially the end of July.

She said: “Protecting our adult population through vaccination is a huge and unprecedented undertaking.

“Logistical challenges are inevitable, but the programme has already proved itself to be highly resilient.

“I would again appeal for patience from the public, as we reset the programme in light of the updated JCVI advice.

“Pfizer supplies remain steady but limited, so our progress with the 30-39 age group will be limited for the next few weeks.

“Likewise, those under 30 will have to wait a few weeks before being offered appointments for their first dose.”

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