Under-30s to be offered AstraZeneca jab alternative after blood clot fears

The latest number of Covid vaccines administered in Suffolk and north east Essex has been revealed by the NHS

Under-30s are to be offered alternative vaccine to the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab - Credit: PA

Under-30s in England are to be offered an alternative the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine - amid fears of a possible link with blood clots.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which is the UK's vaccine advisory body, said at a press conference that blood clotting is a very rare side effect of the jab.

Dr June Raine, head of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said: "Based on the current evidence, the benefits of the Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca against Covid-19 and its associated risks – hospitalisation and death – continues to outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people.

“Our review has reinforced that the risk of this rare suspected side effect remains extremely small.

"By March 31, over 20million doses having been given, we’ve had 79 case reports up to and including that date.

“All 79 cases occurred after the first dose. Of these 79 cases, 19 people have sadly died.

"These cases occurred in 51 women and 28 men aged from 18 to 79 years. From these reports, the risk of this type of rare blood clot is about four people in a million who receive the vaccine.

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“Three out of the 19 were under 30 years.”

However, it is recommended that anyone who has already had the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should continue to have the second dose. 

The European Medicines Agency also held a press conference regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Executive director Emer Cooke said: "A plausible explanation for these rare side effects is an immune response to the vaccine, leading to a condition similar to one seen sometimes in patients treated with heparin."

Dr Raine added that anyone with symptoms including a persistent headache, blurred vision, shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal pain and unusual skin bruising four days after vaccination should seek prompt medical advice.