ATHENS – The death of a 63-year-old woman from a blood clot linked to the United Kingdom's AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine, and four other cases, hasn't deterred Greece from continuing its use in the campaign against COVID-19.
The National Vaccination Committee said the country’s inoculation program dubbed Eleftheria – for Freedom – will proceed without changes to the age limit for using AZ but warned it's risky for women under 50.
A British model, 39, on Cyprus, died from a brain hemorrhage weeks after getting the first of two required doses of the vaccine which had been allowed to be continued after earlier reports of blood cloths.
The Europeans Medicines Agency (EMA) said after an analysis that AZ should be used because the benefits outweighed the risks, except for those who died, and EU countries want to accelerate their vaccination programs to help restart battered economies.
“The committee notes that the estimated risk of developing thrombocytopenic syndrome (TTS) after administration of this vaccine is higher in women under 50 years of age,” its President Maria Theodoridou said, reported Kathimerini.
That came after a special meeting to review the epidemiological data and whether to continue using AZ although the European Union is entangled in a dispute with the manufacturer over failures to meet delivery contracts.
The guideline for both of two doses of AZ will remain the same unless someone contracts a clot after the first shot. People being inoculated remain at centers for 15-30 minutes to check for side effects such as shock but the clots don't show until days or weeks later.
There have been 905,915 doses of AZ given in Greece and only five cases of blood clots while in the UK there were 15 cases out of nine million second doses, media reports said.
In Greece, the other four cases were three women, 36, 44, and 47 and a 35-year-old man. One patient recovered and was discharged from the hospital and the other three are being treated.
There was a report of another woman, 36, on the Peloponnese suffering a brain hemorrhage after getting an AZ shot, and taken to a hospital.
Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias said the platform for scheduling appointments for all vaccines for the 30-34 age group opens on May 29, after another opened for those from 35-39.