NIAC Recommends Ireland Restricts Astrazeneca To People Over 60

NIAC is a group of Irish medical experts meet to consider new evidence about vaccines and provide advice to the Chief Medical Officer,the Department of Health and the state.

The HSE has advised that all AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination clinics planned for tomorrow should be cancelled.The latest advice also states:
Those aged 60 and older should receive their second dose 12 weeks later as scheduled.
Those aged under 60 years with a very high risk or high-risk medical condition should receive their second dose 12 weeks later as scheduled.
Those aged under 60 years without a very high risk or high-risk medical condition should have the scheduled interval between doses extended to 16 weeks to allow further assessment of the benefits and risks as more evidence becomes available.

Professor Karina Butler, Chair of National Immunisation Advisory Committee, says we must balance the significant benefits of a national vaccination programme with the very rare risk of reported blood clot events linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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Request for National Immunisation Advisory Committee advice On 14 March 2021, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) recommended the temporary deferral of the administration of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca®.

This document presents updated evidence relating to the safe use of COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca® and provide sadvice in respect of the use of this vaccine in Ireland.Background The decision to temporarily defer administration of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® followed notification by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) ofa new safety alert from the Norwegian Medicines Agency on Saturday 13 March 2021. The alert related to four reports of serious, rare thromboembolic (clotting) events, including some complicated by thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) in adults under 65 years of age after vaccination with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca®.

NIAC,after discussion with representatives from the HPRA,Health Service Executive (HSE) and Department of Health (DOH),reviewed this new information in light of an ongoing investigation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) into earlier reports from Austria and Denmark of serious, complicated thromboembolic events following vaccination with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca®. On 11 March 2021the EMA stated that “there is currently noindication that vaccination has caused these conditions”and that “the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks and the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of cases of thromboembolic events is ongoing”.

On 14 March 2021the NIAC recommended temporary deferral of the administration of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® based on the additional events from Norway reported after the initiation of the EMA review,pending receipt of further evidence and the conclusion of the EMA review. To date, no reports of serious clotting events associated with low platelets have been notified to the HPRA. Over 129,000doses of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® have been given in Ireland.


Recommendation 1 The administration of the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® should be recommenced for use in all those aged 18 and over.

Recommendation 2 Healthcare professionals and vaccine recipients should be informed that very rare, complicated thromboembolic events have been reported in a small number of people who have recently received COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca®.

Recommendation 3 Healthcare professionals should be alert to the signs and symptoms of thromboembolism and/or thrombocytopenia and report any suspected adverse reactions to the Health Products Regulatory Authority.

Recommendation 4 Recipients of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® should be advisedto seek immediate medical attention if they develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling and/or persistent abdominal pain within weeks of vaccination. Additionally, anyone with neurological symptoms including severe or persistent headaches (particularly 3 or more days after vaccination) or blurred vision, or who develop petechiae or ecchymoses beyond the site of vaccination,should seek prompt medical attention. These rare events have usually occurred within 14 days of the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca®.

Recommendation 5 Healthcare professionals should seek early expert advice from the National Coagulation Centre about the specialised testing and treatment options for patients presenting with thromboembolic events that are associated with thrombocytopenia, (including Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC)or Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST))occurring within weeks following vaccination with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca®.

All Ireland’s vaccines information is available online at Ireland’s Covid Vaccine Hub:

Vaccines Administered

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Vaccine Data up to Sat, 10 Apr 2021

Total 1st Dose Vaccines Administered 745,363

Total 2nd Dose Vaccines Administered 313,031

Total Vaccines Administered 1,058,394

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Cohort Breakdown of Vaccines Administered

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Cohort 1 Total 191,625

Residents aged 65+ in LTCF

Cohort 1 – 1st Doses 107,805

Cohort 1 – 2nd Dose 83,820

Cohort 2 Total 344,957

Frontline Healthcare Workers

Cohort 2 – 1st Dose 249,675

Cohort 2 – 2nd Doses 95,282

Cohort 3 Total 451,365

People aged 70 and older

Cohort 3 – 1st Dose 317,655

Cohort 3 – 2nd Dose 133,710

Cohort 4 Total 70,108

People aged 16-69 and at very high risk of severe COVID-19 disease.

Cohort 4 – 1st Dose 69,934

Cohort 4 – 2nd Dose 174

Not Coded Total 339

Not Coded Cohort Not Coded – 1st Dose 294

Not Coded – 2nd Dose 45

About Author Annette J Dunlea Irish Writer

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