Ja remains comfortable with AstraZeneca vaccine amid blood clot concerns - Tufton
The Government says the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination programme will continue as it is “comfortable” with the AstraZeneca shot, after some European states suspended use over blood clot concerns from a small group of people.
Denmark, Norway, and Iceland have temporarily suspended the roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine, while Italy and Austria have stopped using certain batches of the drug as a precautionary measure.
More than 3,000 Jamaicans – mostly healthcare workers – have been vaccinated since Jamaica started administering the AstraZeneca vaccine from Monday’s arrival of a gift of 50,000 doses from India.
Vaccinations started yesterday.
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said there’s no reason to stop using the vaccine, which the World Health Organization (WHO) approved for emergency use last month.
“Our position remains the same, informed by the WHO, that the vaccine is safe,” said Tufton today as he visited vaccination sites across in central Jamaica.
“We’re comfortable with what we have received from the experts, including our own experts, but also at the level of the expert committee of the WHO,” he said, noting that “millions of people have taken it and the side effects have been minimal to date”.
The developments in Europe came a day after Tufton told a Gleaner vaccine forum Wednesday that the Government would accept responsibility in the unlikely event that a citizen requires additional support as a result of adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccine buyers typically have to sign an indemnity agreement with manufacturers, which means purchasers such as states will have to accept liability for any adverse developments.
Danish health authorities Thursday said that there was no evidence the vaccine was responsible for the blood clots.
While the issue could become fodder for anti-vaxxers, experts have pointed out that of the millions of AstraZeneca vaccine shots administered elsewhere, including in Britain, there have been no reported cases of the vaccine causing blood clots or related problems.
In a statement on Thursday, the European Medicines Agency said “the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered” while a closer evaluation of the blood clot cases continues.
“There is currently no indication that vaccination has caused these conditions,” the regulator said.
It said the number of people with blood clots in vaccinated individuals was no higher than those who had not been inoculated.
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