PH pauses use of AstraZeneca vaccine for those below 60 years old

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 8) — The Department of Health said on Thursday it adopted the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration to temporarily stop giving the COVID-19 vaccine made by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca to people under the age of 60. This was after European drug regulators found a link between the coronavirus shot and a few cases of unusual blood clots with low platelet count.

The DOH made the announcement hours after FDA Director General Rolando Domingo said they made such a request.

“We asked DOH kung mayroon pa pong natitirang AstraZeneca vaccine, siguro ay huwag muna nating gamitin sa mga people below 60 until we get clearer evidence and clearer guidance from the WHO at sa ating pong mga experts,” Domingo said Thursday in a briefing.

[Translation: We asked DOH if there still AstraZeneca vaccines left, maybe we should not use it on people below 60 until we get clearer evidence and clearer guidance from the WHO and from our experts.]

READ: EU agency finds AstraZeneca vaccine can cause rare blood clots, as UK advises other shots for under-30s 

The European Medicines Agency said it reviewed 62 cases of clotting in the sinuses that drain blood from the brain, and 24 cases of clotting in the abdomen, 18 of which were fatal. The cases were reported to the EudraVigilance, the EU drug safety database from European countries, including the United Kingdom, where around 25 million people had received the AstraZeneca vaccine, it added.

Domingo said those who had this reaction were women below 60 years old.

But he added there was no similar adverse event reported for those given the AstraZeneca shot in the Philippines.

The DOH and the FDA said experts are “carefully reviewing information pertinent to this new development in order to craft appropriate recommendations on the vaccine’s use.”

Domingo, however, pointed out that the rare side effect was so far observed only after the first dose. So, if nothing happened after the first dose, then there should be "no problem" with getting the second shot, he added.