Under-40s in the UK are to be offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine over blood clot risks.
Though the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) says the risk of blood clots is deemed “extremely small”, the balance of benefit and risk is more finely balanced among younger age groups in comparison to older groups due to the former’s generally lower risk of serious illness from Covid-19.
The JCVI has said that an alternative vaccine to the Astra/Zeneca should be offered to under-40s where an alternative is available and on the condition that doing so wouldn’t cause delays to the current vaccination programme.
Any vaccine is thought to be better than no vaccine at all, but supply issues are not anticipated with regards to giving under-40s an alternative to AstraZeneca.
The news comes as experts anticipate the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will shortly be approved for use in the UK.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is currently appraising the jab and the review is said to be at an advanced stage.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chairman for JCVI, said: “Safety remains our number one priority.
“We have continued to assess the benefit/risk balance of Covid-19 vaccines in light of UK infection rates and the latest information from the MHRA on the extremely rare event of blood clots and low platelet counts following vaccination.
“As Covid-19 rates continue to come under control, we are advising that adults aged 18 to 39 years with no underlying health conditions are offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, if available and if it does not cause delays in having the vaccine.
“The advice is specific to circumstances in the UK at this time and maximises use of the wide portfolio of vaccines available.
“The Covid-19 vaccines have already saved thousands of lives and the benefit for the majority of the population is clear – if you are offered the vaccine, you should take it.”
According to Public Health England (PHE), the vaccine programme is already estimated to have prevented more than 10,000 deaths in England alone by the end of March.