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The Danish health authorities said on Thursday that they needed more time to examine reports of possible serious side effects of the vaccine.
Sweden, Finland and Iceland have resumed vaccination. But they will only offer it to the elderly.
– We have decided to continue the break and make a new decision by 15 April, says FHI Director Camilla Stoltenberg for the PRC.
Stoltenberg says they need to do further research to determine the usefulness of the vaccine for different age groups.
– We have limited data from other countries that have and have not vaccinated people over the age of 65, says Stoltenberg.
– Is there a chance that there will be an age limit if you decide to get the vaccine again?
– Probably the most important thing is to take it again, yes.
Stolenberg explains why they assessed differently than countries that have continued vaccination so far.
– It was a real assessment and a difficult choice whether to offer it to those over 65 or to continue to have a rest, says Stoltenberg.
Norway stopped vaccination with AstraZeneca on March 11 this year following reports of rare and serious side effects in some vaccinated people.
In that country, four people died and two are being treated in hospital after receiving a combination of bleeding, blood clots and low platelet counts.
Norwegian researchers believe this is due to a strong immune response to AstraZeneca.
Stoltenberg says the number of serious cases in Norway is part of what is behind the decision to extend the break. They will also investigate whether there were any milder cases that were not reported.
Nurses Association: Blue
To date, approximately 121,000 Norwegians have received the first dose of AstraZeneca. Stoltenberg says the likelihood that more people will have serious side effects is very small.
– It is recommended between nine and twelve weeks before you receive dose two. We think 12 is better than nine, so it will be time to consider what we should do next, Stoltenberg says.
It may be appropriate to offer two doses of AstraZeneca or two doses of another vaccine if you do not take AstraZeneca again.
Kai Øivind Brenden, another deputy head of the Norwegian Nurses Association, told the PRC that he was pleased that the FHI was taking more time.
– We believe that this is a wise decision if there is so much uncertainty. We think it is wise to make the necessary risk assessments in this, Brenden says for the PRC.
Healthcare professionals are by far the largest group of vaccinees among those who received AstraZeneca in Norway.
Brenden says there was uncertainty among its members as with the general population.
– The last number I heard was that 6 out of 10 experienced mild or slightly more serious side effects, which are quite common. They can be fever, flu symptoms and the like. In addition, we have uncertainty about the more serious cases we talked about before the vaccine was stopped.
He believes the vaccine is safe
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have already emphasized that the vaccine is safe to use. The EMA reiterated on Thursday that the body constantly believes that there is no link between the cases of blood clots and the vaccine.
The Audit Committee on the Safety of Medicines (PRAC) has a new plenary session 6-9. April. An updated recommendation is expected there.