Herts director of public health on Oxford-AstraZeneca concerns

Jim McManus, director of public health for Hertfordshire, agreed with the council's decision to clos

Jim McManus, director of public health for Hertfordshire, has spoken out about the link between the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine and rare blood clots - Credit: Herts county council

Following the news that under 30s would now be offered an alternative COVID-19 vaccination to the Oxford-Astrazeneca, we spoke to Hertfordshire's director of public health, Jim McManus.

The recommendation came after a review by the UK drugs regulator -  the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency - found that 79 people had suffered rare blood clots after having the jab.

To reassure Herts' residents, Jim McManus said: “I’ve now had my first dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and look forward to having my second. 

"The latest news does not change my view of the vaccine and the benefits still far outweigh the risks. I will take the vaccine.

"The regulators and independent expert advisers have reviewed reports of extremely rare – 4.4 in a million people, cases of blood clotting events with very low red blood cell counts mainly in the brain but also in other parts of the body – that have occurred after the AstraZeneca vaccine, which coincided with having the vaccine. 

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"Both regulators say this is NOT evidence of a causal link. Even if it were, these events are so rare and the risk factors for them have occurred mostly in people with a history of medical issues linked to this type of outcome that the benefits still far outweigh the risks.

"More investigation is under way, and as a precaution, some types of people are being given the advice we would expect in these circumstances: some populations (those with a history of clots and similar conditions, and those under 30) will be offered a different vaccine.

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"That’s why you should speak to your doctor if you have a history of blood clots.

"As a further precaution, they recommend that anyone who had major blood clots and low platelet (red blood cell) levels after the first dose of the vaccine should not have the second dose of the AZ vaccine. 

"As a final precaution, if you have persistent new headaches more than four days after the first dose then it is advisable to call 111 for advice.

"I stress that if you haven’t had these side effects you should come forward, as I will, for your second dose when invited."

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