UK will offer alternative to AstraZeneca shot to people under-40s

Photo: AP

People under 40 in Britain will not be given the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine if another shot is available because of a link to extremely rare blood clots, AP reported, citing UK government’s statement on Friday.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization said people aged 30 to 39 without underlying health conditions should receive an alternative vaccine, “where available and only if this does not cause substantial delays in being vaccinated.” Last month it gave the same advice for people under 30. ”Any vaccine offered early is preferable to a vaccine offered too late,” said Wei Shen Lim, who chairs the JCVI, an expert body that advises the government.

England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, said the government expects to be able to follow the new advice and still meet its target of giving everyone over 18 a vaccine jab by 31 July.

“We have to maintain the pace and scale of the UK vaccination programme,” Van-Tam said, adding that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and effective and “thousands are alive today” because they received it.

Britain has recorded more than 127,500 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe. But recent infections and deaths have plummeted thanks to extensive lockdowns and a rapid vaccination program. Two-thirds of UK adults have received at least vaccine jab and almost a third have had both doses. A majority have had the AstraZeneca shot, though Britain is also using vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.

Up to 28 April, Britain’s medicines regulator had received 242 reports of blood clots accompanied by low platelet count in people who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine, out of 28.5 million doses given. There were 49 deaths. Most of the cases occurred after the first dose, and health officials said there were no concerns about people getting second AstraZeneca shots.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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