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Update on Astra-Zeneca Vaccine

Following the news of very rare blood clots associated with the Astra Zeneca (AZ) vaccine, some patients are understandably cautious about whether they can now safely have the vaccine.  Some have contacted their GPs to ask for an alternative vaccine and others to ask for blood tests to check their platelet counts (because these clots have been linked to patients with low platelet counts).

The advice to us is that the vaccines remain safe and that these side effects remain extremely rare.  A summary of their guidance to us is below.

The main message is that for patients who have not had blood clots or strokes following their first vaccinations, or underlying health problems associated with their platelets as listed below, they should go ahead with their 2nd vaccinations.  

Unfortunately we are unable to arrange platelet counts or alternative vaccines except in the specific circumstances authorised by NHS England.  We simply do not have enough alternative vaccines to and neither do we have the capacity for blood testing.

FOR 2ND DOSES

  • All those who have received a 1st dose of the AZ vaccine should be offered a 2nd dose regardless of age, except for patients with a medical history including:
    • Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis
    • Acquired or hereditary thrombophilia
    • Heparin induced thrombocytopenia 
    • Antiphospholipid syndrome
      • These patients should be offered the 2nd dose of AZ vaccine only if the potential benefit outweighs the risks.
  •  Any patients who suffered major venous or arterial thrombosis occurring with thrombocytopenia following vaccination with any COVID-19 vaccine should not receive a 2nd dose of AZ vaccine.

FOR 1ST DOSES IN PATIENTS 30 YEARS AND OVER AND THOSE WITH UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITIONS (COHORTS 1-9)

  • These patients, who are scheduled to receive a 1st dose of the AZ vaccine, should continue as planned

ADULTS UNDER 30 WITHOUT UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITIONS (e.g. health and social care workers, carers, contacts, immunosuppressed)

  • If these patients have NOT yet had a first dose of AZ vaccine they should speak to their own GP about the risks and benefits of having the AZ vaccine or another vaccine.  They should be offered either the AZ or the Pfizer vaccine depending on what is agreed.  They should be booked into a Pfizer vaccination clinic in the next 4 weeks.