Portsmouth health boss urges people to have second AstraZeneca jab
A CITY health boss has urged people to take the controversial AstraZeneca vaccination if offered, saying the benefits of the jab ‘outweigh’ the risks.
Helen Atkinson, the director of public health at Portsmouth City Council, has confirmed all residents who have had their first Oxford vaccine without any serious side effects 'should return for their second dose' when invited.
It comes as it was ruled people under the age of 30 would be offered an alternative vaccine - following a review by a UK drugs regulator that found 79 people had suffered rare blood clots after vaccination, 19 of whom had died.
Ms Atkinson said: ‘I appreciate that reports of the AstraZeneca vaccine being linked to blood clots is likely to make some people very anxious but it's important to note that these incidences are incredibly rare.
‘There have been 79 people that have developed this condition in over 20 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine given and there's still work being done to understand the exact link.
‘For older people, the risks of catching Covid-19 are far higher than this as the virus can make them very ill and sadly as we've seen, it can kill. This is why it’s still recommended that they receive the AstraZeneca vaccine as the benefits of avoiding serious illness from the virus outweigh the very low risk of blood clotting.
‘For people under 30 without any serious health conditions the risks of serious illness from Covid-19 are much lower and that's why the suggestion from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is for them to receive another version of the vaccine. There are enough doses of the alternative vaccines to cater for everyone in this group.’
According to the latest figures from NHS England as of April 4 a total of 97,666 people in Portsmouth have had at least one dose of a Covid vaccine.
And of these 64,042 people over the age of 50 have had theirs - or 97 per cent.
Ms Atkinson added: ‘Anyone who has had the first dose of AstraZeneca without suffering any serious side effects should return for their second dose when invited.
‘This includes people aged 18 to 29 years who are health and social care workers, unpaid carers and family members of those who are immunosuppressed. The second dose is important to give you maximum protection and you can't mix and match different types of vaccine.
‘The vaccine remains the best protection we have against Covid-19 and I would urge people to take up the offer when invited and to return for their second dose if this is due. You'll be given information on any unusual symptoms to look out for and can seek quick medical attention if these occur.
‘If you have concerns about getting the vaccine please look at the information available on nhs.uk/covidvaccine or speak with your GP.’