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JAB LATEST Ireland to be told to restrict AstraZeneca vaccine to over-60s

The advice is expected to come from Ireland's National Immunisation Advisory Committee over fears of blood clots in younger people who have been given the vaccine.


The AstraZeneca vaccine. Picture: Reuters

The AstraZeneca vaccine. Picture: Reuters

The AstraZeneca vaccine. Picture: Reuters

Experts are to recommend that the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine be limited to people over 60, it has emerged.

The advice is expected to come from Ireland's National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) over fears of blood clots in younger people who have been given the vaccine.

Niac met this morning to consider the matter and a formal announcement is expected later, after Niac lays out its advice to deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn.

While most of Ireland’s vaccination programme relies on Pfizer’s vaccine, it was hoped that the availability of AstraZeneca would help speed up the vaccination programme.

However, Ireland along with several other countries last month suspended its use for a time following reports of rare blood clots. It was subsequently declared safe by the European Medicines Agency, but last week more countries introduced age restrictions after reports of more blood clots emerged.

Last week Niac said the risk of clotting from AstraZeneca far outweighed the risks from Covid.

The implication of the recommendation means that people in younger age groups - particularly those in their twenties and thirties - may wait longer for a first dose .

However, people in their sixties may be vaccinated earlier as AstraZeneca vaccine doses meant for people at very high risk or at high risk due to underlying conditions are freed up.

The EU may be under pressure to secure more doses than planned from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson to make up for the gaps created by the new age restrictions on the use of AstraZeneca in member states.

The first doses of the one-shot Johnson and Johnson are due here this week.

It uses the same technology as AstraZeneca and a number of blood clots in four people who got the vaccines are also under investigation by the European Medicines Agency.

The plan here, based on the original projected supply, was to have 80pc of the adult population given at least one dose by the end of June.

This could now be pushed out to July if supplies of the other three vaccines do not stretch far enough.

The European Medicines Agency is currently doing a rolling review of the Sputnik vaccine made in Russia but it is unclear how many doses would be available if given the go ahead.

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This morning, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly refused to say whether the June projections for vaccination will change if restrictions are put on the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin previously said 80pc of adults will have their first dose of a Covid vaccine by the end of June.

However, some countries have stopped administering the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to younger adults due to the rare side effect of blood clots, and Niac is to due to make recommendations today.

The vaccination delivery projections are that in April, May and June, the AstraZeneca jab will make up 21pc of all vaccines administered.

However, speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland this morning, Mr Donnelly would not confirm whether the speed of the roll-out would be impacted by the NIAC recommendations.

He did suggest that when operational changes were made in the past due to recommendations from NIAC that the pace of the rollout “didn’t change”.

“At the moment if the vaccines come in as they are forecast to do then by the end of June four in every five adults that wants a vaccine will be in a position to be offered one, it really is a great cause for hope, particularly on a day like today as we take a cautious but an important step out of the pandemic,” he said.

The Minister added that there is no point in speculating until NIAC has made a decision, saying: “We will have word from NIAC very shortly and when we do if the operations do need to adjust them we will adjust them.

"It depends what NIAC says, we don’t know what NIAC is going to say. They have givenseveral recommendations that had serious operational consequences and the HSE stepped up to them each time and critically the pace of the roll-out didn’t change.

“So, I think rather than speculating on what NIAC might say let's wait to see what they say and if there are any operational changes.”

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