| 8.4°C Dublin

V-AXED Lockdown exit under threat as 15,000 appointments cancelled as AstraZeneca jab ditched for under 60s

Prof Karina Butler, chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, said last night the decision to restrict the vaccine to the over-60s was due to the linking of the very rare risk condition of unusual blood clots in people who received the jab.

Close

Professor Karina Butler, Chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Professor Karina Butler, Chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Professor Karina Butler, Chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee. Photo: Colin Keegan/Collins

Covid-19 vaccination targets to take the country out of lockdown have been delivered a setback after a decision to no longer give the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine to people under 60 on safety grounds.

Up to 15,000 people who were due to receive the vaccine today have had their appointments cancelled as the HSE was plunged into a major overhaul of its vaccination roll-out.

Prof Karina Butler, chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, said last night the decision to restrict the vaccine to the over-60s was due to the linking of the very rare risk condition of unusual blood clots in people who received the jab.

She said: “While it is an extremely rare condition, consideration must be given to the fact that it has a very high risk of death or severe outcome.”

Most people who received their first dose will get a second jab of AstraZeneca within the three-month time frame in May, except for those who are not in the “very high or high risk” category due to underlying illness.

They will wait for 16 weeks as more information comes through which might see them get a second dose of another vaccine.

Prof Butler said the recommendation followed the assessment of the European Medicines Agency which found a probable link between the vaccine and a very low risk of unusual blood clots.

The vaccine has been mostly given so far to healthcare workers and people who are at very high risk of Covid due to underlying conditions.

Prof Butler said the blood clots are “rare events”.

The HSE is expecting 813,000 doses of Oxford AstraZeneca over April, May and June, out of 3.9m doses of four different vaccines in total.

The decision is expected to delay the administration to many people with underlying illness but speed up vaccination for the over-60s.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

However, younger age groups are likely to have to wait longer for a first dose with a question mark now over whether the target of 80pc of the population getting at least one vaccine by late June will be met.

Asked what impact it will have on the road out of lockdown, deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said he hoped it would not be significant and said that vaccination is just one element of controlling the spread with compliance with public health measures crucial in the weeks ahead.

In a statement, Astra Zeneca said it recognised the decision taken by NIAC. Implementation and roll-out of the vaccine programme is a matter for each country to decide.

“Reviews from the regulatory authorities in the EU and UK have reaffirmed the vaccine offers a high-level of protection against all severities of Covid-19 and that these benefits continue to far outweigh the risks.

“Neither agency identified any risk factors, such as age or gender, or a definite cause for these extremely rare blood-clotting events.

“In addition the WHO noted that, whilst concerning, the events under assessment are extremely rare, with low numbers reported among the almost 200 million individuals who have received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine around the world.

Of these 200 million people, real-world data has suggested thousands of deaths have been prevented.”

The medicines regulator, the Health Products Regulatory Authority confirmed it received one notice here of a case of “special interest” relating to a blood clot in a woman who received the vaccine.

It has also received a small number of cases of low platelet counts, another reported side-effect.

The HSE was forced to cancel all AstraZeneca vaccine clinics today and will need around two days to redirect the roll-out.

Prof Butler rejected claims it was an over-reaction and that setting the limit at 60 years was too severe.

The risk of a blood clot remains extremely small when compared to the impact of Covid-19, she said .

If you are over 60 you are 85 times more likely to die from Covid than suffer a clotting event.

For people aged 20 to 34, that falls to twice as likely to die from Covid. She advised people offered the vaccine to take it.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Irish Independent


Privacy