DOH halts AstraZeneca vaccinations for adults under 60

(Contributed via Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo)

(UPDATED) The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday, April 8, 2021, adopted the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for adults under 60 years old in the wake of reports linking it to blood clots and low platelet counts.

FDA Director General Rolando Enrique Domingo, however, emphasized that the suspension does not mean the vaccine is unsafe or ineffective against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

“It just means that we are taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of every Filipino. We continue to underscore that the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh the risks and we urge everyone to get vaccinated when it's their turn,” he said in a statement.

He urged those eligible to receive the vaccine - healthcare workers, senior citizens and persons with comorbidities - to get it

Domingo said they took note of the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to list blood clots as very rare side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“While we have not seen such incidents in the country, the FDA has recommended to temporarily suspend the use of the vaccine for persons below 60 years old as we await results of the review being done by our local experts, as well as the official guidance of the WHO,” Domingo said.

To date, the National Adverse Events Following Immunization Committee has not received any local reports of such side effects.

Domingo said the FDA and DOH are carefully monitoring the implementation of the vaccination program to identify and appropriately manage any possible adverse events.

The Philippines has received a total of 2,525,600 doses as of March, consisting of 2.0 million Sinovac vaccine and 525,600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine.

The inactivated Sinovac vaccine, originally approved for adults 18 to 59 years old, was cleared on April 7 for senior citizens aged 60 years old and above.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which was donated through the Covax facility, was approved in the Philippines for adults 18 years old and older. Available AstraZeneca vaccines in the country are being administered as first dose.

The Philippines has been allotted more than 4.0 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through Covax.

The private sector and local government units have also placed an order for 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (SunStar Philippines from PR)


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