Paris (AP) – French health officials said on Friday that people under the age of 55 who received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should receive other vaccines for their second shot because of the extremely rare risk of developing a blood clot.
Germany is expected to offer such a booster dose strategy for people under 60 years of age. The World Health Organization says it is too early to say whether it is recommended to recommend a combination of such vaccines, but the European Medicines Agency has not recommended any age restrictions on the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The French authorities say the vaccine remains a key part of the vaccine plan’s vaccine strategy, and have urged the elderly to continue taking it as French hospitals fight another wave of COVID-19 patients.
“It’s an effective vaccine,” Dominique Le Guludek, chairman of France’s top health authority, told reporters. “If we want to win the fight against the virus, we must use all the weapons at our disposal.”
Several European countries have decided in recent weeks to limit the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the elderly, as evidence suggests the vaccine may be associated with rare blood clots in the young population.
Since March 19, France has offered the vaccine only to people over the age of 55. By then, half a million French people, including Health Minister Olivier Veran, had received the first dose.
The French health authority said on Friday that it was still keeping the age limit and recommended that younger people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine for their first dose receive Pfizer or Moderna vaccine boosters instead.
“It is a preventative measure,” Veran told RTL radio on Friday.
The health authority called for more research into the effects of vaccine mixing.
On March 30, Germany recommended limiting the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in people over the age of 60, in most cases. Last week, the country’s Independent Vaccine Commission recommended giving a second shot of BioNTech or Moderna vaccines to people under 60 who received the first shot of an AstraZeneca product.
Health ministers from 16 German states are expected to sign the proposal next week.
WHO spokeswoman Dr Margaret Harris said on Friday that the Immunization Advisory Group had made recommendations for the AstraZeneca vaccine in February but did not have enough information at the time to determine if it could be used in combination with other vaccines.
“There is not enough data to say whether this is something that can be done,” Harris told a UN news briefing in Ris.
France, which has one of the highest rates of virus deaths in the world, has closed schools and non-essential businesses for a month and set up tours to stop the spread of new versions of the virus.
It is also trying to speed up vaccinations. President Emanuel Macron acknowledged on Friday that the United States had “won the bet” on coronavirus vaccines by making massive investments and moving fast with experimental treatments.
Macron visited a French factory that began bottling, packaging Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines this week, urging his countrymen to join the vaccine maker and prepare for a “national war effort.” He promised that France would produce 250 million doses of the vaccine for domestic and international use this year.
The event was hosted by Amy Kitten and Gir Mawlson in Berlin.