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GP Julian Spinks talks about why the risk of blood clots outweighs the benefit of having the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for under 30s

A Kent GP says the likelihood of suffering blood clots as a side effect of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine remains "incredibly rare".

It was announced yesterday that under 30s are to be offered doses of the Pfizer or Moderna options due to concerns about the risk.

KMTV's health expert Dr Julian Spinks talks about the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

But Julian Spinks told KMTV the risk of clotting was 100 times higher for women who take a contraceptive pill – four in every 10,000 – compared to four in every million for the jab.

Explaining why those aged under 30 are to be offered an alternative to AstraZeneca, he said medication regulators now felt it was more likely there was an association with blood clots.

"What they are saying is that, particularly if there is very low levels of the virus in the community, the risk may outweigh the benefits for under 30s," he said.

"There's a slightly higher risk of blood clots from the numbers they are seeing and also because the risks from the virus of getting a severe disease is much, much lower, so the benefits and risks balance the wrong way."

A researcher working on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Picture: John Cairns/University of Oxford/PA
A researcher working on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Picture: John Cairns/University of Oxford/PA

He stressed that for older people, there were still more benefits from having the jab.

And he pointed out that if there was another outbreak and cases were to shoot up again, the benefits of the vaccine would massively outweigh the risks, even for under 30s.

It has been reported that younger people have suffered more acute side effects from Covid jabs, such as feeling sick, tired or having a fever for a couple of a days after being vaccinated.

Asked if he had seen people suffering an adverse reaction, Dr Spinks said: "No, not really. It's a pretty benign vaccine – most people have a bit of a sore arm, or a slight fever, but very little else."

But a Kent professor has explained why younger people could feel ill after having their jab.

Professor Martin Michaelis talks about how the Covid jab affects younger people

Professor Martin Michaelis, who's an expert in molecular medicine at the University of Kent, says the symptoms could be linked to both age and gender.

He said: "Younger people we know have a stronger immune response, and the strength of immune response declines over a lifetime. I'm not sure we should call them side effects as they are a sign that the immune system is working.

"Females are more likely to have more severe symptoms but they also are more likely to have a higher protection. Many of these immune genes are located on the X chromosome, which women have two of and men just one.

"But that doesn't mean that you are not protected if you don't have side effects - it's not that simple. The immune system is very complicated, and sometimes people who don't feel anything after vaccination are still protected."

Under 30s are to be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Picture: Mecha Morton
Under 30s are to be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Picture: Mecha Morton

Despite the potential side effects, Prof Michaelis says younger people should not put off having the vaccine - describing it as a possible short-term pain for big long-term gain.

"It's surprising that people are more worried about a vaccination than about the actual disease," he said. "You have to think about the benefits and the risks. Covid-19 is a very serious disease, and we've already had 150,000 deaths in the UK.

"It's not just about you, and your risk to die, there are other people you protect - people you are in contact with. You are much less likely to spread the virus once you are vaccinated, so you keep others safe.

"It is for all of us. The vaccines will not get us out of the pandemic on their own, but they are an important factor. But only if we all get vaccinated, otherwise they won't be that helpful."

In Kent, as of April 4, 889,977 adults had received their first dose of Covid vaccine and 152,478 have had two.

There has been a huge disparity in the rate of the rollout across the county, with some areas seeing a much higher proportion or the population jabbed, with the age of people living there among the likely reasons for the difference.

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