Under 40s in Wales to be offered alternative to Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine following ‘extremely rare’ blood clotting cases
People under the age of 40 in Wales and the rest of the UK are to be given an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The move follows the latest advice from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and follows a number of “extremely rare cases” where blood clots and low platelet count have been found in people who have had a first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Up to 28 April 2021, the MHRA had received 242 reports of blood clotting cases in people who also had low levels of platelets in the UK, following the use of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
“These numbers are very small compared to the millions of people who have received the vaccine. The overall incidence of case reports of thromboembolic events with low platelets after first or unknown doses was 10.5 per million doses.”
“The majority of these extremely rare events occurred after the first dose.” The regulator has said.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, COVID-19 Chair for Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (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.”
The Welsh Government has issued a statement, it says:
“Adhering to the latest expert information, as a precautionary measure we will immediately implement the change in advice from JCVI and MHRA and offer those under 40 (with no clinical risk factors) who are not yet vaccinated an alternate to AstraZeneca.”
“The appropriate vaccine will be made available at their appointment.”
“We do not envisage this will lead to a delay to the roll-out of our vaccine programme in Wales.”
“Everybody who has already had a first dose of the AZ vaccine should be reassured that they should receive a second dose of the same brand, irrespective of age, in line with JVCI advice. Medical exemptions may apply to a very small minority.”
“The AstraZeneca vaccine has already saved thousands of lives and remains safe and effective for the majority of the population.”
“Over 1.2million people have received the AZ vaccine in Wales since January, with very few cases of the rare clotting with thrombocytopenia event.”
“Vaccines remain the best way out of this pandemic and provide strong protection against COVID-19 – it is important that when people are called forward, they should get their jab. ”
“To date, over 1.8million people in Wales have received a first dose of vaccine and a further 800,000 have also received a second dose.”
“The Welsh Government, Public Health Wales and NHS Wales are working with other agencies to continually monitor vaccine safety and will keep this issue under close review. ”
“In Wales, people’s safety will always come first and we will only use vaccines where it is safe to do so and the benefits continue to outweigh the risks.”
As a precautionary measure, anyone who has the following symptoms from around 4 days to 4 weeks after vaccination is advised to seek prompt medical advice:
- a severe headache that is not relieved with painkillers or is getting worse
- a headache that feels worse when you lie down or bend over
- a headache that is unusual for you and occurs with blurred vision, feeling or being sick, problems speaking, weakness, drowsiness or seizures
- a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin
- shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain
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