The deputy chief medical officer has said that new advice to offer under-30s an alternative to the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine should not stop the Government from hitting its targets.
The Government has set a target for all patients in priority groups one to nine to have been offered their first Covid shot by 15 April.
Phase two – cohorts 10 to 12 – will begin once it is formally authorised by the Government, which has a target for all adults to be offered a first dose by 31 July.
The JCVI this afternoon made its updated recommendation following a review into the link between the vaccine and rare blood clots.
It said that patients under 30 who are in phase 1 of the vaccine rollout, and remain unvaccinated, should be offered an alternative Covid vaccine to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab if it is available. Second doses should carry on unaffected.
The MHRA has also issued new advice to health professionals, urging them to weigh up the risks in patients that have a higher risk of developing blood clots because of medical conditions.
Speaking in a press briefing, deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam reassured the public that the timings of the vaccine rollout should remain unaffected, as long as vaccine deliveries are as expected.
He said: ‘I am assured that because of our supply situation in relation to alternative vaccines, the effect on the timing of our overall programme should be zero or negligible.
‘That of course is contingent on getting the supplies that we expect to get of the alternative vaccines, which are the Pfizer vaccine currently in use and the Moderna vaccine that we hope to bring into deployment from mid-April in England.’
Professor Van Tam added that although patients might experience a ‘small delay’ or ‘slightly greater distance’ to travel, the NHS ‘will get the right vaccine to you in the right time’.