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The UK is recommending that people under 40 be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine “if available,” citing concerns over the development of rare blood clots among vaccinated young people.
The new advisory from the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published on Friday.
Dr. Wei Shen Lim, the COVID-19 chair for JCVI, said the body was recommending offering the alternative “if available and if it does not cause delays in having the vaccine.”
The committee called the decision a “precautionary approach,” stressing that harmful side effects are “extremely rare.”
“For the vast majority of people, the benefits of preventing serious illness and death far outweigh any risks,” the statement said.
The advisory group said that the chance of a younger person getting seriously ill was getting smaller in the UK where infection rates are relatively low.
As of Friday people aged 40 and over, and those who turn 40 on July 1, are currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in England.
Last month the JCVI recommended offering those under 30 another vaccine following reports of very rare — and potentially fatal — blood clots in people who got the shot.
The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency at the time showed this chart that describes the balance of risks: