AstraZeneca vaccinations to resume tomorrow

ireland
Astrazeneca Vaccinations To Resume Tomorrow
The vaccine’s use was temporarily suspended in Ireland out of 'an abundance of caution'. Photo: PA Images.
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Sarah Mooney

The rollout of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine will resume in Ireland on Saturday, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has announced.

The vaccine’s use was temporarily suspended out of “an abundance of caution,” due to concerns that recipients in some European countries had experienced blood clots after being inoculated.

Earlier this evening, deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn recommended that use of the vaccine resume, based on assessments by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac).

The Niac recommended that the vaccine be used in all those aged 18 and over on Friday.

HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry welcomed the news and confirmed the vaccine will rollout over the weekend in acute hospital settings.

“We will now put in place the updated information and advice recommended by Niac, and begin rescheduling vaccinations starting with a relatively modest number tomorrow,” he said.

Earlier, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly also said that AstraZeneca vaccinations would resume this weekend.

Under the renewed vaccine rollout, the Niac has said that healthcare professionals and vaccine recipients should be informed that very rare, complicated clotting events have been reported in a small number of people who have recently received it.

“To date, no reports of serious clotting events associated with low platelets have been received by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) in Ireland,” Dr Glynn said.

“Over 117,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca have been administered in Ireland.”

Dr Glynn said he would urge anyone who is offered a coronavirus vaccine to take it.

“We know that it is an extremely effective vaccine, we have seen the phenomenal effects that it is having on case loads in other jurisdictions and we’re lucky to have it as part of a range of vaccines that are now available to us,” he said.

Side effects

The Niac has said that healthcare professionals should be alert to the signs and symptoms of blood clots or low platelet count after vaccinations, and report any suspected adverse reactions to the HPRA.

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Those who receive the AstraZeneca vaccine should be advised to seek immediate medical attention if they develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling and/or persistent abdominal pain within weeks of vaccination, it added.

Anyone with neurological symptoms after vaccination — including severe or persistent headaches (particularly three days after vaccination) or blurred vision — or who develop skin bruising beyond the site of vaccination, should also seek prompt medical attention.

The Niac said these rare events had usually occurred within 14 days of receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine, particularly three days or more after.

Folllowing the clearance from the Niac, the HSE is now working to recommence the rollout of the vaccine.

Confidence

The EMA expressed confidence in the vaccine on Thursday, saying there was clear scientific evidence that it was “safe and effective” following an investigation into reported side effects.

In a press briefing on Thursday, the EMA said: “We cannot rule out a definitive link between these cases and the vaccine”, adding the number of incidents of blood clots after vaccination was lower than would be expected in the general population.

Ireland
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The Niac reviewed the EMA statement and, following discussion with the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), the National Coagulation Centre and counterparts across the EU, recommended that the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine recommence.

Ahead of the Niac's recommendation, the Taoiseach said he would have no issue taking the AstraZeneca vaccine if he was offered it.

He added that the Government was “gearing up” to resume administering the jab.

The chief executive of the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), Dr Lorraine Nolan said it was her view that the AstraZeneca vaccine was “absolutely safe” and should be used in Ireland.

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