UNDER-30S are to be offered an alternative Covid jab to the AstraZeneca vaccine due to mounting evidence linking it rare blood clots, the UK’s vaccine advisory body says.
A review by the drugs regulator MHRA found by the end of March 79 people in the UK suffered rare blood clots after vaccination, 19 of whom died.
The regulator said this was not proof the jab had caused the clots. But it said the link was getting firmer. The regulator said the side-effects were extremely rare and the vaccine’s effectiveness was proven.
It said it meant the benefits of taking the vaccine were still very favourable for the vast majority. But they conceded it was more finely balanced for younger people because the risk from Covid was so much lower.
The review prompted the government’s vaccine advisory group, the JCVI, to recommend that people aged 18 to 29 be offered an alternative vaccine where available.
People who have had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should still get their second dose. Only those who suffered one of these rare blood clots after the first dose should not get vaccinated, the MHRA said.
People with blood disorders that leave them at risk of clotting should discuss the benefits and risks of vaccination with their doctor before going for a jab.
Nearly two-thirds of the cases of rare clots were seen in women. The people who died were aged between 18 and 79.
The European medicines regulator’s Emer Cooke said that clots were seen in “all ages, and in men and women”, and there was no available evidence of “specific risk factors such as age, gender, or previous medical history of clotting disorders”.
“Our safety committee… has confirmed that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19 overall outweigh the risks of side effects,” she said.