Australia restricting AstraZeneca vaccine for people under 50

Australia restricting AstraZeneca vaccine for people under 50
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Australia on Thursday restricted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, recommending that people under the age of 50 do not receive an inoculation from the manufacturer, one day after the European Union’s top drug regulator said a “possible link” exists between the vaccine and reports of rare blood clots.

According to The Associated Press, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he received the recommendation to limit the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a series of urgent meetings were held between Australian drug regulators. The meetings were sparked by the European Medicines Agency’s report of a “possible link” between the vaccine and blood clots.

Morrison said the top recommendation he received from an advisory group on Thursday night was to adopt the Pfizer vaccine as the preferred inoculation for individuals aged 50 and younger, the wire service reported.

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Morrison also noted that the recommendations were determined with caution, adding that the rare but serious side effects have mostly been seen in younger people, according to the AP.

“We’ve been taking the necessary precautions based on the best possible medical advice,” Morrison said, according to the AP. “It has not been our practice to jump at shadows.”

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation did, however, recommend that individuals under the age of 50 who already received their first AstraZeneca shot should go ahead with their second dose, because the medical advice indicated that the blood clots only form after the first dose, the AP reported.

The group said that the AstraZeneca vaccine should only be administered to people under the age of 50 when the benefits clearly outweigh the risks, according to The AP.

These recommendations, however, will now likely delay the country’s vaccination effort, since it heavily relied on the AstraZeneca vaccine to inoculate its citizens, the wire service noted.

The Hill reached out to AstraZeneca for comment.

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On Wednesday, a safety committee of the European Medicines Agency concluded that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The agency, however, did not place any restrictions on the use of the vaccine, which is currently available to individuals age 18 and older.

AstraZeneca previously said its studies have not determined an increased risk of blood clots as a result of its vaccine.