In a guidance update issued on Friday, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said that the age group should be offered an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to a link with blood clots.
The regulator said there have been 242 clotting cases and 49 deaths, with 28.5 million doses of the vaccine administered.
Anyone under the age of 40 who has already received a first dose of AstraZeneca should receive a second dose of the same vaccine. Similar guidance was issued last month for those under the age of 30.
Becky Sherrington, head of the vaccination programme, said: ‘We are incredibly grateful for the expert work of the JCVI as they continue to review the data and provide us with their recommendations. It has been proven that the Oxford-AztraZeneca vaccine is safe, effective and has already saved thousands of lives around the world. There are no safety concerns associated with people receiving a second dose of AstraZeneca and we will continue to offer it as a second dose for those who have received it as a first dose.
‘Today’s news is positive and shows that, despite the extremely minimal risk associated with AstraZeneca and young people, the evidence continues to be reviewed and taken seriously. The small increase in incidence levels demonstrates transparency and that the JCVI are doing everything possible to mitigate potential risk, despite that risk being extremely low.’
And she reiterated that it was ‘very important that young people get the vaccine’ as appointments open up for under-40s.
She added: ‘This news will slightly impact on our operational delivery times for offering the vaccine to Islanders under the age of 30. However, we remain in a strong position to complete the programme by August, which means that everyone over the age of 18 will have been offered both doses of the vaccine by that time.’
Dr Ivan Muscat, deputy medical officer of health, said that the ‘benefit/risk ratio’ was ‘very much in favour of vaccination’.
He said: ‘Over 34 million people in the UK have received a first dose of a Covid vaccine so far. The vaccine programme is estimated to have prevented over 10,000 deaths in England alone by the end of March. Data show that, up until the end of April, the occurrence of a specific type of clot remains very low. The Medical and Healthcare Regulatory Agency had received 242 reports of blood-clotting cases in people who also had low levels of platelets in the UK, following the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. These numbers are extremely small compared to the millions of people who have received the vaccine.’