'Safety is the number one priority': North Yorkshire NHS official insists AstraZeneca Covid jab is safe
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A senior NHS official in North Yorkshire has insisted "safety is the number one priority" in the coronavirus vaccine rollout after some European countries paused the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab amid concerns over blood clots.
Amanda Bloor accountable officer of NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said while some patients may be feeling uneasy about receiving the jab, regulators had been "absolutely clear" that it is safe as she urged everyone to take up the opportunity as soon as it arises.
Her bid to reassure the public comes after Germany, France, Italy and Spain this week became the latest countries to suspend use of the vaccine while they seek further clarification on its safety.
Speaking at a meeting of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum today, Mrs Bloor said: "We understand that this action may be concerning for some people around the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine but I want to reassure you safety is the number one priority for the NHS.
"The phenomenon of blood clots can occur naturally - they are not an uncommon thing.
"Over 12 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have now been given across England and the number of blood clots that have been reported after having had the vaccine is not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally."
The European Medicines Agency previously said there was "no indication" that the jab causes blood clots and is expected to release the final findings of an investigation on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the UK's medicines watchdog, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, has also said that evidence "does not suggest" the jab causes clots.
Mrs Bloor added: "Given this, the NHS will continue to offer the AstraZeneca vaccine and we would urge people to come forward when invited.
"This will give us the greatest chance of keeping the cases of Covid-19 at bay within communities and hospitals, and also allowing us to progress along those timings that have been outlined in our roadmap."
It was also announced today that more than 188,000 people in North Yorkshire have now received their first coronavirus jab and 13,000 their second, with more than 50,000 of those being delivered into arms at Harrogate's mass vaccinations centre at The Great Yorkshire Showground.
Those who are currently being called up for their vaccine include over 50s and those with underlying health conditions between 16 and 60-years-old.
Mrs Bloor said the "fantastic" progress in working through the age groups meant North Yorkshire remained on track to meet the government's target of vaccinating all over 50s by 15 April and every other adult by 31 July.
It comes as the number of people with Covid-19 in North Yorkshire's hospitals has continued to fall with a drop from 129 last week to 96 today. Twenty three of those patients are in intensive care.
In the county's main hospitals there are currently 13 patients in Harrogate, 25 in York and three in Scarborough.
The weekly rate of coronavirus infections is also continuing on a downward trend with the figure for North Yorkshire standing at 46 cases per 100,000 people and Harrogate 38.
These are both below the national average of 58.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter