Younger, older, all or none: Recommendations on who should receive the AstraZeneca vaccine are widespread in Europe.
In mid-March, many European countries suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine following reports of severe blood clots.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has registered 62 cases of rare and severe blood clots in the brain. 44 of them are in the EU and the EEA.
However, the EMA still recommends the use of the vaccine in people over 18 years of age.
The recommendations differ
Most countries recommend the vaccine for use by anyone over the age of 18, but in Norway and Denmark no one is still vaccinated with AstraZeneca.
Some countries have recommended the use of the vaccine to the older part of the population, but here too the age groups vary:
While French people over the age of 55 can get the AstraZeneca plug, you must be over 70 to get the vaccine in Iceland.
See which recommendations apply where:
This week, several cases of severe blood clots have reappeared. The German Paul Ehrlich Institute, which is responsible for the vaccine program in Germany, reported on Tuesday a total of 31 cases of blood clots among vaccinated people.
On Thursday, the British authorities said that a total of 30 cases of rare blood clots have been found after using the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Several countries are now reconsidering the use of the vaccine, before the European Medicines Agency (EMA) next week will come up with new advice for the vaccine – again.
Norway and Denmark will present new assessments by mid-April.
Is it hard to keep up? See the timeline of the AstraZeneca vaccine here:
Different assessments in the Nordic region
Both Sweden and Finland put the AstraZeneca vaccine on hold for a period after reports of severe blood clots.
While Norway and Denmark have extended the AstraZeneca break pending further investigations, Sweden and Finland decided last week to continue vaccination. But now only people older than 65 receive the vaccine.
– The reason is that we have not seen the rare blood clot conditions in this age group. In addition, we have a demanding epidemiological situation with a rising trend of infection, said chief physician Hanna M. Nohynek at the Finnish Institute of Public Health THL to VG on Monday 29 March.
The head of the vaccine program in Poland, Michal Dworczyk, stated on March 15 that the countries that stopped the vaccination with AstraZeneca had acted in panic as a result of the media coverage of the possible connection between the vaccine and cases of blood clots.
Poland, along with Belgium, the Czech Republic and Ukraine, were among the countries that did not pause vaccination in mid-March.
The United Kingdom, which has vaccinated by far the most people with the AstraZeneca vaccine, also continued the vaccination.
– I am aware of the situation, we have done all the research required in the UK and we are very sure that it is safe to take the vaccine, but we know that we must follow the processes in each country when it comes to safety, and we have so clear respect for the Norwegian approach, said Foreign Minister Dominic Raab to NTB.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson received the AstraZeneca vaccine on 19 March.
Germany resumed vaccination with AstraZeneca following the EMA’s recommendation on 18 March.
On Tuesday, the German Vaccine Commission (STIKO) changed the recommendation for the use of AstraZeneca. Now only people over 60 are offered the vaccine.
Spain also used the vaccine again on March 24 as a result of the EMA’s recommendation, after pausing the vaccination on March 15. In Spain, the age limit is the opposite of Germany – here they moved it others the age limit from 55 to 65 years.
This week, however, Spain opened the way for people in socially critical professions, such as teachers, police and health workers over the age of 65, to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Correction: An earlier version of this case stated that the AstraZeneca vaccine is approved for anyone over the age of 18 in Switzerland. However, the Swiss Medicines Agency Swissmedic has not yet approved the vaccine for use. The error was corrected on Friday 2 April at 09.11.
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