Statement on AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine following JCVI update

A government spokesperson said:

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives in the UK and around the world.

As the MHRA – the UK’s independent regulator – and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation have said, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks for the vast majority of adults.

The government will follow today’s updated advice, which sets out that, as a precaution, it is preferable for people under the age of 40 with no underlying health conditions to be offered an alternative vaccine where possible once they are eligible, and only if doing so does not cause a substantial delay in accessing a vaccination.

More than 50 million vaccines overall have already been administered, and our current vaccine supply and rate of infection means we are able to take this precautionary step while remaining on track to achieve our target of offering a vaccine to all adults by the end of July.

Everybody who has already had a first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should receive a second dose of the same jab, irrespective of age, except for the very small number of people who experienced blood clots with low platelet counts following their first vaccination.

When people are called forward, they should get their jab. Vaccines are the best way out of this pandemic and provide strong protection against COVID-19.

Background information

Public Health England (PHE) analysis indicates that the COVID-19 vaccination programme prevented more than 10,000 deaths in England up to the end of March.

All safety reports are rigorously investigated and anyone with unexpected symptoms should speak with a healthcare professional.

All medicines have a risk of side effects, even common medicines like paracetamol.

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