The UK vaccination programme has been very successful with more than 30 million people vaccinated and more than 6,000 lives already saved.
Recently there have been reports of a very rare condition involving blood clots and unusual bleeding after vaccination, this is being carefully reviewed but the risk factors for this are not yet clear
Although this is extremely rare, there appears to be a higher risk in people shortly after the first dose of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine.
Around 4 people develop this condition for every million doses of the AZ vaccine given, this is seen slightly more in younger people and tends to occur between four days and two weeks following the first dose vaccination.
This condition can also occur naturally, and clotting problems are a common complication of the COVID-19 infection, an increased risk has not yet been seen after other COVID-19 vaccines, but this is being carefully monitored.
Vaccine provides protection
It is important to note that the benefits of vaccination in protecting you against the serious consequences of COVID-19 outweigh any risk of this rare condition. Currently JCVI has advised that:
- It is preferable for people under 30 to have a vaccine other than AZ. If you choose to have another COVID-19 vaccine you may have to wait to be protected. You may wish to go ahead with the AZ vaccination after you have considered all the risks and benefits for you
- If you are over 50 and your first dose was with AZ vaccine without suffering any serious side effects, you should have the second dose on time as you may still be at high risk of the complications of COVID-19. Having the second dose will give you higher and longer lasting protection
- If you are a healthy person between the ages of 30 and 50, the MHRA and the JCVI advises that all adults in this age group (including health and social care workers) should still receive any of the available COVID-19 vaccines. The benefits of vaccination in protecting you against the serious consequences of COVID-19 outweigh any risk of this rare condition. You should also complete your course with the same vaccine you had for the first dose.
Advice for under people under 30 years old
Currently JCVI has advised that it is preferable for people under 30 to have a vaccine other than AZ. If you choose to have another COVID-19 vaccine you may have to wait to be protected. You may wish to go ahead with the AZ vaccination after you have considered all the risks and benefits for you. There are three main groups that people aged 18 to 29 may fall into:
If you are eligible for the vaccine now because you are in an at risk group: your clinician will talk through the best option for your needs. We will aim to find you an alternative vaccine, however you may decide that you prefer to have the AZ vaccine without delay to avoid the greater risk of catching COVID-19.
If you are eligible for the vaccine now, but are healthy: perhaps because you are a health and social care worker, unpaid carer or family member of those who are immunosuppressed, we will find you an alternative vaccine. This may mean you have to wait or travel further, as the alternative vaccines may have different storage requirements. Again, you can choose to have the AZ vaccine, earlier, and your vaccinator will talk you through the benefits versus risks.
If you are aged 18 to 29 and low risk: you will not be receiving the vaccination until much later in the programme (July). In line with the JCVI guidance, at this point you will be offered one of the alternative vaccines.