Health Secretary Matt Hancock has insisted the Oxford Covid vaccine is safe for all ages, despite UK regulators suggesting giving under-30s the Pfizer or Moderna jab instead.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) made the recommendation yesterday following concerns over rare blood clots.
Scientists have raised fears over the vaccine’s effect on young people, who are at less risk from Covid-19.
But Hancock said that the ‘abundance of caution’ displayed by regulators shold reassure the public.
He told Sky News: ‘All three vaccines that are in use in the UK are safe and they’re safe at all ages, but there’s a preference for the under-30s, if they want to have the Pfizer or Moderna jab, then they can.’
Asked if he fears the move will provoke a drop off in the uptake, he said: ‘There’s no need of that. We’ve seen this incredible uptake of the vaccine in this country.
‘What we’ve learned in the last 24 hours is that the rollout of the vaccine is working, we’ve seen that the safety system is working, because the regulators can spot even this extremely rare event – four in a million – and take necessary action to ensure the rollout is as safe as it possible can be.
‘And we are seeing that the vaccine is working. It’s breaking the link between cases and deaths.
‘The speed of the vaccination programme is not affected by the decisions yesterday.
‘You can see and be reassured by the fact we’re taking an abundance of caution and we’re making sure we’re rolling this out in the safest way possible.’
Scientists have repeatedly said that the benefits of getting the vaccine will outweigh any possible risks.
Despite a number of EU countries pausing heir rollout of the Oxford, the the European Medicines Agency has concluded it is safe and effective, although blood clots should be listed as a ‘very rare side effect’.
In a message to under-30s who may be hesitant about receiving a vaccine, Hancock told BBC Breakfast: ‘The vaccines are safe, and if you want to have the Pfizer vaccine or Moderna vaccine instead then that is fine.
‘Covid is a horrible disease and long Covid affects people in their 20s just as much it seems as any other age group and can have debilitating side effects that essentially ruin your life.
‘The safety system that we have around this vaccine is so sensitive that it can pick up events that are four in a million – I’m told this is about the equivalent risk of taking a long-haul flight.’
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