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Philippines Suspends AstraZeneca Vaccine for Ages 60 and Below

For ages 60 and below.
by Arianne Merez
Apr 8, 2021
Photo/s: Shutterstock

(UPDATE) The Philippines on Thursday suspended the use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for those age 60 and below following reports linking the jab to rare cases of blood clots.

The Department of Health said it adopted the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to temporarily halt the use of AstraZeneca vaccines for the said age group.

Earlier, the  European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended that a dangerous type of blood clot should be listed as a "very rare side effect" of the AstraZeneca jab.

“While we have not seen such incidents in the country, the FDA has recommended to temporarily suspend the use of the vaccine for persons below 60 years old as we await results of the review being done by our local experts, as well as the official guidance of the WHO,” FDA Director-General Rolando Eric Domingo said.


FDA Seeks Suspension of AstraZeneca Vaccination for Ages 60 and Below

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Since the arrival of AstraZeneca jabs in the Philippines last month, no case of blood clots as a side effect of the vaccine has been reported.

Domingo said the temporary suspension does not mean that the vaccine is ineffective and is simply a precautionary measure.

"We continue to underscore that the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh the risks and we urge everyone to get vaccinated when it's their turn,” Domingo said.

Based on the most recent data, someone getting the AstraZeneca vaccine stands a 1-in-153,000 chance of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), the blood clot in the brain, or its equivalent for the digestive tract.

The risk of death, based on data as of March 22, is one in 1.4 million. 

This means that the odds of getting hit by lightning in an average lifetime -- about 1 in 15,000 -- are more than 90 times higher than dying from a brain blood clots after receiving an AstraZeneca jab.

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The FDA earlier in the day said supplies of AstraZeneca vaccines already ran out in the Philippines and additional jabs are expected to come in the next month, giving local health experts enough time to review guidelines for its use.

Last month, the Philippines received over 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca jabs from global vaccine sharing platform COVAX. The jabs have been rolled out as part of the government's COVID-19 immunization program as the country fights a renewed surge of COVID-19 infections.


AstraZeneca Vaccine: What We Know and Don't Know

Clots are AstraZeneca Vaccine's Latest Issue

'Don't Panic': WHO Says on AstraZeneca Vaccines

AstraZeneca is only one in the Philippines' vaccine portfolio which includes China's Sinovac, US' Moderna, Johnson&Johnsons, Novavax, and Pfizer.

-with a report from Agence France-Presse

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