COVID JAB: People cancel appointments over misplaced blood clot fears
People are being reassured about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine as some in the Bristol area cancel their Covid jab based on misplaced fears of blood clots.
Local health bosses have confirmed there is no evidence that the vaccine causes blood clots, after about a dozen European countries paused its rollout as a precautionary measure earlier this month.
Some of those countries have started to use it again after Europe’s medicines regulator concluded the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is “safe and effective” and not linked to a higher risk of developing blood clots.
The results of a large US trial, released this week, have also confirmed the vaccine is both safe and highly effective.
But some people in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire are still anxious about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine and have been cancelling their jabs.
“We have had some people ringing and cancelling,” Claire Thompson from the area’s NHS clinical commissioning group told South Gloucestershire councillors on March 17.
Ms Thompson, who is the officer responsible for the vaccination programme in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, said the cancellations were mostly from people booked to get their first dose of vaccine.
“It’s not huge numbers, but there is, understandably, some concern from people,” she told members of South Gloucestershire Council’s health scrutiny committee.
Ms Thompson said reception staff were explaining to people who were worried that: “Any risk from receiving the vaccine is far outweighed by the benefit of the immunity it provides.”
South Gloucestershire’s director of public health, Sara Blackmore, told the committee: “In terms of information that is available to us, the number of clots occurring doesn’t exceed what you’d expect to see in the general population anyway.
“There’s no evidence showing any link between the vaccine and clots.”
The scare followed a small number of reports from Europe that people who had received the vaccine had developed blood clots a few days afterwards.
But blood clots occur for a variety of reasons, and there is no evidence that the vaccine raises the risk.
Blood clots happen in around one in 1,000 people in the general population every year.
According to the European Medicines Agency, close to five million people had received the AstraZeneca vaccine as of March 10, but only 37 blood clots had been reported – significantly fewer than would normally occur in the general population anyway.
Results from a long-awaited US trial of the vaccine in more than 32,000 volunteers also found there were no safety issues regarding blood clots.
The trial, by Columbia University and the University of Rochester in collaboration with AstraZeneca, found the vaccine was 79 per cent effective at stopping symptomatic Covid disease and 100 per cent effective at preventing people from falling seriously ill.
Ms Thompson said the vaccination programme in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire is booking up to 1,200 vaccinations a day.
Around a third of all adults in the region have received their first dose of a Covid vaccine, and some have received their second dose, she said.
The programme is aiming to vaccinate all those aged 50 years and over, and younger people with a particular health risk, by the end of April.
Words: Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporter
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