Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly
By Anthony Neeson
Health authorities in the Republic of Ireland have temporarily halted the AstraZeneca vaccine being administered after reports of blood clotting in a small number of patients in Norway.
Along with Ireland, European neighbors Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria and Iceland have also suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
30,000 people who were set to have the AstraZeneca vaccine in Ireland this week are having their appointments deferred. The news comes amid concern over the slow roll-out of vaccinations in the Republic.
Twenty percent of the vaccines that have been administered in the country have been AstraZeneca jabs.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the decision was taken to suspend the vaccine after recommendations from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).
“Obviously nobody would want to see this kind of thing happening, however, what I am very comforted by, as Minister for Health, is that our senior clinicians leading the vaccination programme moved very quickly and they are erring on the side of caution,” said Minister Donnelly on RTÉ.
“That is something I want to see and I think it is something the Irish people want to see.”
He added: “The reports from Norway have to be taken seriously, they are being taken seriously. We always expected that there could be situations where a temporary deferral was needed. This is one of them.”
A spokesperson for AstraZeneca said: “An analysis of our safety data that covers reported cases from more than 17 million doses of vaccine administered has shown no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia with Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.”
Health authorities in Northern Ireland said they would continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Meanwhile, Minister for Health Donnelly has welcomed the announcement from the European Council that the Covid-19 vaccine made by Jansen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has been given the green light for use across member states.
He said the “single dose vaccine will significantly enhance the implementation of our vaccination programme."