The Netherlands is again suspending use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine following reports of serious thrombosis-related side effects, the health ministry said on Friday.
Use of the vaccine for the under-60s is being halted up to and including April 7 while the health assessment council looks again at the data, the ministry said.
The decision led the 25 regional health boards to say they would stop administering the vaccine altogether to stop wastage. Only 700 appointments have been planned in for the over-60s in the coming days, split between the 70 to 80 vaccination locations.
That means an average of around five a day per site, when a bottle produces 11 to 12 doses, a spokesman said. ‘And that would be a waste.’
Family doctors, meanwhile, have told broadcaster NOS that they have been offering vaccinations to friends and family, and people in waiting rooms, to use up vaccine left in bottles after a day of injections.
‘Every arm that can be vaccinated should be,’ a spokesman for the family doctors’ association LHV said. ‘It is not the normal way of doing things but at a time of scarcity we don’t want any wastage.’
The decision to again halt the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine follows a report by side effects monitoring group Lareb on Friday, which said that one Dutch woman has died after being given the jab. No link has yet been shown between her symptoms and the jab.
The woman had a lung embolism and a cerebral haemorrhage, Lareb said.
In total, Lareb has had five reports of thrombosis seven to 10 days after the AstraZeneca injection, all involving women aged 25 to 65. In total, some 400,000 people were given the AstraZeneca vaccine during the period the problems were reported.
The Netherlands also stopped using the vaccine for a period last month when there were earlier concerns about thrombosis, but started using it again when the European Medicines Agency said the vaccine is both safe and effective.
The decision to suspend use of the vaccine is a further blow to the Dutch vaccination campaign which is running behind schedule.
The health ministry estimates that 2.6 million doses of vaccine have now been administered since the campaign started in January. Some 13.3 million people in the Netherlands are eligible to be vaccinated.
Health minister Hugo de Jonge has said every adult in the country who wants to be vaccinated will have had at least one dose by the beginning of July.
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