AstraZeneca vaccine is “safe and effective” says Sheffield’s top health boss

Sheffield’s health chief has reassured people that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe following fears it could cause blood clots.

By Lucy Ashton, Local Democracy Reporter
Thursday, 18th March 2021, 9:57 am

A number of countries in Europe have suspended use of the vaccine after reports of deep vein thrombosis in some people.

But the World Health Organization has urged countries not to halt vaccinations and the European Medicines Agency has stood by its decision to approve the vaccine.

Sheffield’s Director of Public Health Greg Fell told a council meeting: “There are side effects, most of them are relatively minor, and there is nothing particularly out of kilter with anything that’s been noted in the clinical trials.

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Greg Fell, director of public health at Sheffield Council

“It’s a balance between side effects and the benefit of vaccination, which is gargantuan and well beyond our hopes.

“The deep vein thrombosis (DVT) story is quite hot at the moment, but the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has not changed its view. There is no direct evidence that says that the AstraZeneca vaccine causes DVT.

“DVT is quite common and on the scale in which we’re doing vaccination, there will be some DVT patients close to the vaccination but this is a correlation versus causation.

“I’ve had the text to go for my vaccine and I will have whichever vaccine it is. It’s a safe vaccine and it is definitely an effective vaccine.”

Mr Fell said the impact of the vaccination programme was having “a stunning effect”.

“More than 275,000 first doses have been given in Sheffield so that’s 45 per cent of the adult population.

“That’s a spectacularly amazing effort by the NHS, volunteer and community sector and the council in supporting them.

“Of those who are shielding, 83 per cent have received dose one. If the supply remains good we are definitely on track to vaccinate cohorts one to nine by the April target.

“Being vaccinated cuts transmission in half and that will reduce transmissions further.

“The vaccine is working, the evidence is pretty clear in terms of the hospitalisations in the elderly, you can now see the impact with the naked eye, you don’t need fancy statistics.”


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