Cumbria’s director of public health has addressed concerns about the safety of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.
It comes after guidance from UK regulators that people under 30 should be offered a Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccine instead of Oxford/AstraZeneca.
The decision from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation follows a review of the Oxford jab by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
It came in the wake of concerns raised across Europe about the link between the vaccine and blood clots.
“The MHRA is evaluating this as they do any possible issues that arise with any medical product,” said Colin Cox, public health director for Cumbria.
“The fact that our safety surveillance and review system is considering such rare events to determine whether there is any causality between them and the Oxford vaccine should leave people feeling very reassured that the system is working as it should and that any safety issues will be picked up and addressed by the regulator.
“The second key thing is that these are very rare events. Even if there does turn out to be a causal relationship, it remains much more dangerous to catch COVID than it is to have the vaccine, even in the younger cohorts that we’re now looking at.
“Can we guarantee 100 per cent safety from the vaccine? No – but we can’t guarantee that from any medicine, even ones that are very commonly used.
“So the key is to work out where the risk is (if there is one), and mitigate that rather than to stop using the vaccine. It’s really important that people still get the jab when invited as they’re much more at risk from COVID than from any known or possible side-effects of the jab – particularly if low vaccine uptake leads to a third wave, as it is in some parts of the world.”
Mr Cox added: “The number of new cases remains low and that is excellent. Restrictions will ease a little more from Monday and I’d just ask people to remember to follow the social contact rules to help drive infections down even further.
“The announcements about the AstraZeneca vaccine this week may be causing some people concern, but I’d want to reassure people that the vaccine remains very safe and effective and that this is actually our medicines regulation system doing its job.
“Even for younger people the balance of risk is still strongly in favour of vaccination and because we have multiple different vaccines have the flexibility to tweak the programme as issues arise. If I am offered the AstraZeneca vaccine, I will certainly accept it.”
This week’s coronavirus round-up:
- There were 81 new cases in Cumbria (a decrease of 53, -40 per cent, from 134 cases in the previous week);
- For the seventh week in a row, Allerdale had the greatest number of new cases (+26 new cases);
- Barrow replaced Copeland in having the highest rate of new cases (28 new cases per 100k population);
- Rates in all Cumbrian districts were below both the national and regional average rates (38 and 44 new cases per 100k population respectively);
- New cases decreased from the previous week in all Cumbrian districts except Barrow;
- New cases in Barrow equalled new cases in the previous week (0 per cent change);
- The 50-59 age group accounted for the greatest number of new cases in Cumbria, followed by the 30-39, 12-18 and 40-49 age groups;
- The only age group to experience an increase in new cases from the previous week was the 80+ age group, however, it is important to note that numerically this increase was extremely small (2 new cases up from 1 new case in the previous week).