BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Spain joined other European countries on Wednesday in limiting the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the elderly due to its extremely rare blood clotting link.
Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias announced after a meeting with regional health officials that the authorities would limit shootings to people over the age of 60.
Until now, Spain has used AstraZeneca on its younger population, limiting it to 65 years. Daryas said authorities would now consider removing that upper limit of the shot, which is the backbone of the nation’s vaccination scheme.
“Our strategy with AstraZeneca is key,” said Daryas.
The decision was made by the European Medicines Agency hours after he said he had found a “possible link” between the “rare clots” in the shot.
Last week, Germany and France restricted the vaccine to the elderly, and earlier on Wednesday, British authorities advised not to give the vaccine to adults under 30.
The EMA has not advised against such age restrictions, while emphasizing that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the very rare cases of thrombosis.
Spain was one of the European countries that briefly stopped using the AstraZeneca vaccine last month when the first fears of blood clots were reported. So far, Spain has reserved Pfizer-BioNTech և Moderna vaccines for over 65 people.
Daryas said his administration would discuss what to do with Spaniards under 60 who have already received the first of two AstraZeneca strokes to make them fully effective. As of Wednesday, 2.1 million people had received the first shot of the vaccine, while only 97 had received the second shot. It was unclear whether the more than 2 million people waiting for the second shot were under 60.
Daryas said they would consider giving them a second dose of another vaccine or leaving them one shot, which would provide some protection.
The big change in vaccine strategy comes a day after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told the nation his government was sticking to a forecast that it would be able to vaccinate 70% of Spain’s adult population, about 33 million people, by the end of the summer.
Despite his appearance around the groups receiving AstraZeneca, Darias said he was confident Spain would meet that destination.
Of the 9.3 million doses in Spain, more than 2 million were AstraZeneca personnel, which are cheaper, easier to maintain and transport.
“There will be changes in the vaccination strategy,” he added, noting plans to include the Janssen vaccine in the coming weeks.
Daryas said that “most” of the regions agreed with the new age limit, but the Madrid region complained that they did not support the decision.
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