VACCINES

Expert says decision to restrict AZ to over-60s driven by drop in Covid rate

expert-says-decision-to-restrict-az-to-over-60s-driven-by-drop-in-covid-rate

The National Vaccination Committee’s decision to restrict use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the over-60 age group was prompted by the reduced chance of catching Covid-19 rather that increased clotting concerns, a health expert explained on Tuesday.

Responding to public alarm at Monday’s decision, especially among citizens below 60 who have already had or are scheduled to have the British vaccine, West Attica University microbiologist Alkiviadis Vatopoulos said that the possibility of developing a clot from the AZ shot remains very low at a ratio of 1 to 150,000. What has changed, he told Skai television, is the chance of becoming seriously or critically ill with Covid-19 as new cases continue to ease.

“Up until two months ago this was a very real possibility. It has dropped now because you have fewer chances of catching the virus. Especially among younger people, the possibility of becoming very ill is much smaller today. It is comparable to getting something from the vaccine. As a result, the committee judged that it is possible for people to wait a month or two, however long it takes, to get an mRNA vaccine,” Vatopoulos said.

He advised people aged below 60 who are scheduled to get an AZ shot to reschedule with a different vaccine if it is their first dose. If, however, it is their second and they did not suffer any serious side effects from the first round, he recommended sticking to the program, saying that the chances of developing a clot after the second dose are around one in a million. He also said that the option of switching the second AZ shot for a different vaccine is still being examined by experts.

Vatopoulos also sought to explain the decision in the spring to limit vaccination of the 35-40 age group exclusively to the AstraZeneca shot, saying that the committee’s priority at the time was getting as much of the population immunized as fast as possible.