The vast majority of people in the north are now being given the AstraZeneca vaccine but as of now people aged under 30 who don’t have an underlying health condition will be offered an alternative.
In line with latest advice from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, the AZ vaccine will still however continue to be rolled out to adults of all ages who have underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19, including those under 30.
The Department said the updated guidance “followed reports of an extremely rare potential adverse event of blood clots and low platelet count following vaccination with the first dose of AstraZeneca - although this has not yet been established”.
A spokesperson added: “MHRA, the UK’s expert regulator for medicine and vaccines, and the EMA have made clear that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks for the vast majority of adults. The JCVI has similarly stressed that the benefits of prompt vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh the risk of any adverse event for individuals 30 years of age and over and for all those who have underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk. The expert advice to people aged 30 and over, and to adults of all ages who are vulnerable to COVID-19, is clear - get the AstraZeneca vaccine to protect yourself from COVID-19.”
The spokesperson added; “The Department of Health in Northern Ireland will be updating advice to health professionals and the public, in light of the updated MHRA and JCVI statements issued.
“We will also be assessing the potential impact on the vaccination programme’s timescale.
“It is very important that everybody who has already had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine gets their second dose of the same vaccine, irrespective of age. The only exception is for the very small number of people who experienced blood clots with low platelet counts following their first dose.”