Bahamian health officials have to ‘weigh the benefits and risks’
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Local health officials will have to consider the latest recommendations from a United Kingdom advisory board against the use of AstraZeneca for healthy individuals under 30.
On Wednesday, the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that 18- to 29-years-old should have the option of a different vaccine due to a low risk of blood clots believed to be connected to the Oxford-developed vaccine.
The recommendation also comes as the European Medicines Agency(EMA) advises that there is a link between rare blood clots and the AstraZeneca jabs.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Pearl McMillian said health officials are aware of the latest development, noting that “considerations along that line may have to occur”.
McMillian insisted however that the flow of information on the AstraZeneca vaccine and its effects continue to come to the fore, putting officials in a better position to make country-level decisions.
She added: “As we move down the road with immunizations with AstraZeneca we have to continue to monitor what the science is giving direction to.”
Some European countries have already begun suspending the use of Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs in younger people.
Director of the National HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Programme Dr Nikkiah Forbes said the overall position on the matter is that the benefits of the vaccine, outweighs the risk of the vaccine.
Forbes explained that a very rare blood clot is most likely to occur in younger people, especially women.
She noted that while individuals under age 30 are more at risk for blood clots, they do far better after exposure to COVID.
“We always have to weigh what are the benefits and the risks; and the benefits of the vaccine still far outweigh the risk, especially in the context of an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak,” Forbes added.
“…All countries will have to look at the situation at their situation and exceed what their national guidelines will be and it’s still being studied.”
The country has received 53,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the World Health Organization (WHO)/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) COVAX Facility and 20,000 doses through a donation from India last month.
To date, just over 10,000 people have been vaccinated in The Bahamas.