The HSE has resumed the rollout of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine today following a precautionary pause.
John Donohue, a patient from Artane in Dublin, was one of the first to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab at Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital on Saturday morning.
Last Sunday the Government paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine following reports from Norway of serious blood clotting events in four adults who had received the jab.
On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) concluded that the vaccine is not associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots in those who receive it. The benefits of the vaccine “outweigh the risks of side effects”, the EMA found.
This was followed on Friday by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) giving the green light for the vaccine’s use for all adults in the State.
Niac recommended that healthcare professionals make themselves informed that very rare, complicated clotting events have been reported in a small number of people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The health service is aiming to vaccinate the 30,000 people affected by the pause in the use of the AstraZeneca jab within the next two weeks, the chief executive of the HSE has said.
“We are aiming throughout this week certainly to get to as many as we possibly can. If it goes into next week we will continue on as well,” Paul Reid said, adding that each patient will need to be contacted and their appointments rescheduled.
Mr Reid also gave assurances that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and highly effective, and he said nobody will be offered a choice in the brand of vaccine they are offered.
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“I can totally understand people may have questions … We will be reassuring them of the safety of the vaccine programme and of the effectiveness,” he told RTÉ’s Saturday with Katie Hannon.
Some 3,500 AstraZeneca vaccinations are to be administered this weekend and during the week to vulnerable patients and healthcare workers at Beaumont Hospital.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination programme is also continuing at the hospital, a spokesman said.
At the Helix Theatre in Dublin, another 3,700 people over the age of 75 are due to be vaccinated this weekend, said Mr Reid.