Ireland temporarily suspended AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday following new information received from the Norwegian Medicines Agency regarding blood clotting in some recipients there, the country’s health ministry said.
Three health workers in Norway who had recently received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine were being treated in hospital for bleeding, blood clots and a low count of blood platelets, its health authorities said on Saturday.
Ireland’s National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) recommended the temporary deferral of the administration of the vaccine “out of an abundance of caution”, pending the receipt of more information from European regulators in the coming days.
“The decision to temporarily suspend use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine was based on new information from Norway that emerged late last night. This is a precautionary step,” Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said on Twitter.
AstraZeneca vaccinations make up 20% of the 590,000 shots administered among Ireland’s 4.9 million population, mainly to healthcare workers after its use was not initially recommended for those over 70 and the firm supplied far fewer vaccines to the European Union than agreed.
NIAC said that if it could be ascertained that the events were coincidental and not caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine, it would reassess the situation.
Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said she had sought clarification from the British region’s health minister about the temporary suspension of the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine elsewhere.
Like the rest of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland is much further ahead in its programme and has inoculated more than 40% of the adult population, relying heavily on AstraZeneca’s vaccine.