BREAKING: NIAC recommends AstraZeneca vaccine should only be administered to over-60s

David Hurley

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David Hurley

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david.hurley@limerickleader.ie

Community vaccination to begin within weeks but AstraZeneca vaccine issue to hit deliver admits health minister

NIAC has issued new advice regarding the use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

THE National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has issued revised advice to the Department of Health recommending that the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine should not be administered to those aged under 60.

In statement, issued this Monday evening, NIAC says the revised advice has been issued in light of the recent investigation by the European Medicines Agency which saw it add unusual clotting events with low platelet counts as very rare side effects to the vaccine product information. 

NIAC is recommending that the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine should only be administered to those aged 60 and older including those with medical conditions with very high or high risk of severe Covid-19 disease.

For those who have already received their first dose, NIAC says those aged 60 and older should receive their second dose 12 weeks later as scheduled.

It's also recommending that those aged under 60 with a very high risk or high-risk medical condition should receive their second dose as scheduled.

However, those aged under 60 years without a very high risk or high-risk medical condition should have the scheduled interval between doses extended to 16 weeks to allow further assessment of the potential benefits and risks.

Commenting on the new advice, which is likely to be accepted by Government, Prof Karina Butler, chair of NIAC said: “NIAC realises the need to balance the significant benefits of a national vaccination programme with the very rare risk of these reported events. While this is an extremely rare condition, consideration must be given to the fact that it has a very high risk of death or severe outcome. As the risk/benefits of Vaxzevria Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccine may vary by age and as alternative Covid-19 vaccines are available NIAC has revised the recommendations for use of this vaccine." 

Prof Butler added: "In developing these recommendations, NIAC is informed by the available scientific evidence and the risk/benefits of the vaccines. New evidence will be reviewed once available and any further required recommendations will be notified to the Department of Health. We strongly encourage everyone to accept the Covid-19 vaccine they are offered. A high uptake of vaccine in every age group is needed if Covid-19 is to be controlled, so that public health restrictions may be safely removed”.