Committee: Under 60s should continue with second dose of AstraZeneca

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Coronavirus vaccinations taking place at Sõle Sports Center on April 3, 2021. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Estonian National Expert Committee on Immunoprophylaxis recommends people under 60 should receive the second dose of AstraZeneca if they have already had the first. But new doses should not be given to the under 60s until more data is available.

Yesterday (April 5), the committee discussed its recommendations for using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine with leading Estonian immunologists. 

The committee strongly recommended second doses be given on time to people who have already received the first dose of the vaccine. But, until new data is available, it recommends new AstraZeneca vaccines should only be given to the over 60s.  

Head of the National Expert Committee on Immunoprophylaxis Maris Jesse said new recommendations had to be decided because it is almost time for people who received their first doses in February to get their second jabs.

"As a precautionary measure, the recommendation in mid-March to use AstraZeneca for people over 60 years of age remained in place, i.e. until new data is available, it is not recommended for people under 60 to start new vaccines with AstraZeneca," she said.

"For people under the age of 60 who have been vaccinated with a single dose of the vaccine, experts recommend that the second dose be given at the agreed time and that the vaccine course be completed. If a person did not develop serious health problems after the first vaccine injection, experts say there is very little chance that they could occur after the second dose. It is important that everyone who is vaccinated should monitor their health closely after vaccination and, if necessary, seek medical advice."

There have been reports of people under 60 experiencing platelet depletion and thrombosis following the vaccine and an association has not yet been ruled out. These symptoms have been reported in approximately 1 in 100,000 vaccinated people. 

The European Medicines Agency is currently investigating the issue but has not changed its risk assessment which states the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the dangers.   

Professor Irja Lutsar said on Tuesday the vaccine is very safe for people over 60 and reduces the risk of suffering from a severe form of the virus.

The committee recommends that people monitor themselves for 20 days after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine and to seek medical advice immediately if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • a fever lasting more than 3 days after vaccination;
  • shortness of breath;
  • chest or abdominal pain;
  • swelling or coldness of the limbs;
  • severe/worsening headache or blurred vision;
  • persistent bleeding;
  • slight bruising, red or purple spots, blood clots on the skin.

The National Expert Committee on Immunoprophylaxis is a committee that advises the Ministry of Social Affairs on matters related to the national immunization plan and other vaccinations, including immunologists, allergists, infectious disease specialists, family doctors, paediatricians, nurses, the Health Board, the Health Insurance Agency and the Ministry of Social Affairs.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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