The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has released new guidelines, suggesting that under 40s in the UK should be offered an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Previously, the JCVI released new guidance for under 30s but this advice has now been extended to include those aged 30-39.
The UK safety regulator revealed that 242 cases of unusual blood clotting and 49 deaths have been reported out of over 28.5 million doses given.
The decision to offer under 40s the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine has been taken based on evidence of slightly higher risks of clotting in younger people when compared to the risk of developing serious complications of Covid-19. As there are good supplies of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the UK, experts believe that offering other vaccines is the best course of action as the rollout moves down the age groups.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, from the JCVI, explained that the body was putting a “high priority on safety” by altering the guidelines and stressed that vaccination is still much safer than going without the jab. He expects the new guidance to increase confidence among younger people who are waiting to be called for their first vaccine. An alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be offered if there are supplies available and there is no risk of delaying the vaccination rollout.
So far, data suggests that vaccination in the UK has saved around 10,000 lives. The latest statistics indicate that over two-thirds of UK adults have now had their first vaccine with over 32% receiving both doses.
As the rollout continues, the seven-day rolling average of deaths is continuing to fall and case numbers are similar to those reported in early autumn. The news comes as the Prime Minister provides more details about the next key date in the roadmap, the 17th May. On this date, indoor hospitality will open and people will be able to mix indoors in small groups. International travel will also resume, although there are stringent requirements in place to re-enter the UK. The UK’s green list was revealed recently with just a handful of destinations, including Portugal and Gibraltar, currently allowing UK visitors.