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AstraZeneca vaccine is 'completely safe' says Anthony Harnden

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The Netherlands has become the latest country to suspend use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after reports of blood clots. It joins the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria and Iceland. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA_ say there is no indication of a link between the vaccine and blood clots.

But there are some recognised minor side effects which should only last for a few hours.

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said women are more likely to get side effects from the Astrazeneca jab, and can be eased by taking paracetamol.

He added people who get the jab are more likely to get side effects after the first dose than the second.

He told BBC Breakfast: “The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine – for the first dose – seems to give quite a lot of minor side effects like: a very sore arm; fever; malaise; headache and sometimes chills which may last for up to 48 hours afterwards.

“They do seem to be more common in women and in younger women.”

Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine side effects in women:

  • a very sore arm
  • fever
  • malaise
  • headache
  • chills

He continued: “With the Pfizer vaccine, which we are given at the moment, it seems to be the reverse – side effects are more likely with the second vaccine.

“The message is once you’ve had your first Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine – if you do get some side effects which are unpleasant take some paracetamol.

“And don’t not have your second vaccine because of the side effects because the second vaccine is likely to be less reactogenic than the first.”

Professor Harnden also said all over-50s will be vaccinated within the next few weeks.

He said: “In primary care, clonidine topical we’re still vaccinating cohort six – all with underlying illness – and some of seven.

“But throughout the country, we’re going to cohort nine.

“Most people over the age of 50 will be vaccinated really within the next few weeks – so it is tremendously successful.

“Those first nine priority groups included 99 percent of all hospitalisations and deaths, certainly in wave one of the pandemic, so we’re feeling very optimistic.

“We’re seeing a very sharp reduction in the deaths and hospitalisations throughout the country.”

Appearing on Good Morning Britain, Professor Harnden explained how a person has higher risk of blood clots from a Covid infection than the AstraZeneca vaccine.

He said: “We’ve immunised 11 million with the AstraZeneca vaccine – we’ve not seen any increasing signals in blood clots in vaccinated groups of what you would expect in the general population.

“Clearly we need to keep a very close monitoring of the situation.”

He added: “Covid is a vascular illness and causes clots all over the body.

“The risk of developing clots from Covid precede any risk of getting clots from the vaccine.”

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