07 April 2021
Today, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) released statements on the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in younger people under the age of 30.
The Head of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, Becky Sherrington, and the Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Ivan Muscat, have responded to these updates.
Becky Sherrington said: “The MHRA and the JCVI are committed to regularly monitoring the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines, and Jersey will always respond immediately to any changes outlined by both professional bodies.
“We are very grateful for the work of our world-leading regulator and our expert advisors as they continue to address this issue.
“The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives. As the MHRA and the JCVI have said, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks for the vast majority of adults. Everybody who has already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should receive a second dose of the same brand, irrespective of age. When people are called, they should get their jab. Vaccines are the best way out of this pandemic and provide strong protection against COVID-19.
“Islanders can therefore be reassured that we will continue with our Phase 1 vaccination roll out to protect people from the risks of COVID-19. This news will not affect the longer term roll out of Jersey’s Vaccination Programme for Phase 2, as we open up appointments to Islanders aged 40-49.
“However, as a result of the updated guidance, we have reviewed our vaccine schedule for Islanders under 30 years old and have incorporated this into our planning. With the arrival of the Moderna vaccine on Island next week, as well as continued supply of Pfizer vaccine, we are confident we have enough doses of alternative vaccines to continue to vaccinate at pace.”
Dr Ivan Muscat said: “Age has always been the defining factor in assessing the risk from COVID. The benefit/risk ratio above the age of 30 is very much in favour of vaccination. All medical interventions are a balance between the risk of treating or preventing disease on the one hand, and the risk of no intervention and the disease itself on the other.
“The risk of a specific type of clot is very low – some 1 in 250,000 doses of vaccine. Islanders who have already received their first Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, whether under or over 30 years old, need not be concerned and do not need to seek healthcare unless they have leg swelling, shortness of breath, pain in their chest or abdomen, bruising beyond the vaccination site or neurological symptoms such as prolonged headache or confusion, especially if occurring within 14 days of vaccination. If this is the case, they should seek medical advice without delay.
“COVID-19 remains a very real threat with the potential for a third wave lingering across Europe. For older Islanders, it is essential that they protect themselves by getting vaccinated as soon as they can.”
The COVID-19 Vaccination Programme remains open to Islanders currently eligible for vaccines (50+, high risk and moderate risk). Bookings for first doses can be made online and appointments for second doses are by invitation only.