UK offers alternative to Oxford/AstraZeneca jab to under 40s

The guidance updates advice from April, which was to offer an alternative to under 30s.

UK offers alternative to Oxford/AstraZeneca jab to under 40s

The U.K. will offer people under 40 an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine where possible, after a further review of rare blood clots and in light of the current pandemic situation, it announced today.

This guidance updates the advice from April, which was to offer an alternative to under 30s.

The advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) is based on the current level of infection in the U.K., the current rate of vaccination and the supply of vaccines in the near future, as well as further analysis of rare blood clots after vaccination.

The U.K. has so far authorized two other vaccines for use, the mRNA vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna.

The benefit of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab “continues to outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people,” said June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

“The balance of benefits and risks is very favorable for older people but is more finely balanced for younger people and we advise that this evolving evidence should be taken into account when considering the use of the vaccine,” she added.

Through April 28, the U.K. reported 242 reported cases of rare blood clots with low platelets, from 28 million administered first doses. That yields an incidence rate of 10.5 per 1 million across all ages.

In the 40-49 age group, the incidence of these rare clots is 10.1 per million, with a fatality rate of 1.9 per million. In the 30-39 group, the incidence rate is 17.4 cases per million, and the fatality rate is 4.5 per million.

Raine said the advice demonstrated the “rigorous safety monitoring” of vaccines in the U.K.

“The public should be reassured of our continuing high standards when monitoring these vaccines for safety, quality and effectiveness,” she said.