Northumberland health chief's reassurances over safety of AstraZeneca vaccine

Northumberland health chiefs reassured the county council’s Health and Wellbeing Committee on the safety and efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A Northumberland health chief has given reassurances over safety of AstraZeneca vaccine
A Northumberland health chief has given reassurances over safety of AstraZeneca vaccine

The meeting discussed the ongoing vaccination programme in Northumberland as well as health guidance updates on AstraZeneca vaccine.

Research has indicted a potential link between the vaccine and the development of rare blood clots in younger adults.

However, according to the Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) the risk is minimal and only “4 people in a million” could potentially be affected.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation also stated: “The benefits of prompt vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh the risk.”

The joint committee also claimed that to date the vaccine will have already saved 6000 lives.

Despite the slight risk MHRA has not recommended an age limit for the AstraZeneca vaccine but recommends that alternative vaccines like pfizer or moderna should be offered to under 30s.

Concerns were raised in the committee regarding health and social care workers.

Catherine McEvoy-Carr, executive director of adult and children’s services, asked what mechanisms were in place for health and social workers who may refuse the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Richard Hay, head of planning and operations at Northumbeland Clinical Commissioning Group, reiterated the national guidance that all those regardless of age who experienced no symptoms of blood clots after their first dose should get their second AstraZeneca vaccination.

Symptoms of blood clots include:

a new onset of severe or persistent headache, blurred vision, confusion or seizures; develop shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain; unusual skin bruising or pinpoint round spots beyond the injection site.

Richard Hay, also stressed that people over 50 who have not received their vaccine should contact their GPs to schedule an appointment.

This applied in particular to over 50s in Blyth, Valens, Seaton Valley, Wansbeck, and Cramlington.

However, over 50s in west Northumberland should remain patient and wait for their GPs or local NHS service to contact them with a vaccination date. This is due to the larger population.

According to the Clinical Commissioning Group’s most recent data 166,219 people have been vaccinated with a first does which is 59 per cent of the eligible population.

There have been also 27, 559 second doses delivered.

In care homes across the region 96.4 per cent of residents and 84.5 per cent of staff have received a first dose.

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