Philippines temporarily stops giving AstraZeneca shots to those under 60

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Philippines temporarily stops giving AstraZeneca shots to those under 60
A pharmacist prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine with a syringe in a pharmacy, in Savenay, western France, on April 2, 2021.
AFP / Loic Venance

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:25 p.m.) — The Philippines is temporarily stopping administering AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines to those under 60 after the European Medicine Agency (EMA) found that blood clotting combined with low platelet count is a potential, although “very rare,” side effect of the shot.

The Department of Health (DOH) heeded Thursday the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommendation to halt vaccinations using AstraZeneca pending further evidence and advice from local experts and the World Health Organization.

The EMA said Wednesday that it found a possible link between very rare cases of blood clotting with low platelet count and getting the AstraZeneca shot. 

The EMA said that most of these cases were reported among women under 60 years of age within two weeks of vaccination.

Despite finding this link, the EMA said that the benefits of getting the AstraZeneca coronavirus jab outweighs the risks of side effects.

In a joint statement, the DOH and the FDA echoed this, saying that the national committee on adverse events following immunization have not received reports of blood clotting and low platelet count after getting the AstraZeneca shot.

“I want to emphasize that this temporary suspension does not mean that the vaccine is unsafe or ineffective—it just means that we are taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of every Filipino,” FDA Director General Eric Domingo said in a statement.

Earlier Thursday, Domingo said on state-run People’s Television that there are hardly any AstraZeneca vaccines left anyway, and that the next batch of the jab are expected next month, which would give them enough time to study the shot.

“That will give us time to study the evidence and to see kung magkakaroon po tayo ng panibagong (if we will have a new) guidance sa paggamit ng (on the use of) AstraZeneca vaccine,” he said.

AstraZeneca is one of four coronavirus vaccines given emergency use authorization by the FDA, along with the jabs of Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinovac and Gamaleya.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 19, 2021 - 8:21am

The national government has so far secured two official deals for COVID-19 vaccine supplies in the Philippines, one with Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac and another with the Serum Institute of India.

Watch this space for bite-sized developments on the vaccines in the Philippines. (Main image by Markus Spiske via Unsplash)

October 19, 2021 - 8:21am

Pfizer-BioNTech submits an authorization request to Health Canada on Monday for the use of its Covid-19 vaccine in children aged 5-11, the companies and the Canadian government said.

"This is the first submission Health Canada has received for the use of a Covid-19 vaccine in this younger age group," it says in a statement.

The authorization request is based on data from trials conducted on 2,268 children in this age group for whom the dosage was lowered to 10 micrograms per injection  — three times less than the standard dose — which the company says is "the preferred dose" for 5-11 year olds. 

This same Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is approved in Canada for ages 12 and up. — AFP

September 21, 2021 - 7:34am

Cuba agrees to provide Vietnam with 10 million doses of its home-grown coronavirus vaccine, Abdala, for which the Asian nation has given emergency approval.

A deal was signed between the two countries during an official visit by President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to the communist island, the government says.

The agreement concerns an initial five million doses, but Vietnam has already authorized the purchase of 10 million doses in total, Cuban media reports. — AFP

September 3, 2021 - 11:37am

FDA Director General Eric Domingo says they have granted emergency use authorization approval for Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to be used in those aged 12-17 years old.

August 19, 2021 - 7:17pm

Under fire for its fumbled start in procuring Covid vaccines, South Africa now has plentiful jabs but faces a new challenge: tepid uptake.

With thousands of new infections and hundreds of deaths each day, South Africa has the biggest coronavirus tally of any country on the continent — more than 2.6 million cases in a population of 58 million.

The authorities have come in for hefty criticism for their vaccine strategy. In February, at a crucial point in the pandemic, the country notably turned down one and a half million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine over doubts that it would protect against a then-dominant local variant of the virus.

Since then, the government has secured tens of millions of shots, and South Africa even became the first nation in Africa to produce Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer jabs.

The goal is to vaccinate 70 percent of its adult population, or 28 million people, by end of the year. — AFP

August 9, 2021 - 8:01pm

The government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has launched a web portal for constituents to register for vaccination against COVID-19, the Bangsamoro Information Office announces.

Dr. Bashary Latiph, health minister, says the portal (https://covid19.bangsamoro.gov.phis a result of the collaboration of the members of the Bangsamoro Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19.

The website shows also shows updated statistics of the region's vaccination efforts and information on COVID-19 cases.

The BARMM has fully vaccinated 144,153 individuals — 91,282 of them with the single-dose Janssen vaccine — the information office says.

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