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Benefits of Covid jab ‘far outweigh’ any risks, says Chief Medical Officer

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Northern Ireland Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride receives his first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine (Liam McBurney/PA)

Northern Ireland Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride receives his first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine (Liam McBurney/PA)

Northern Ireland Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride receives his first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine (Liam McBurney/PA)

The Chief Medical Officer has urged people to come forward for their Covid jabs amid concerns over apparent links between blood clots and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Dr Michael McBride said the risk was "extremely low".

"The expert advice is clear: the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine far outweigh any potential risk for the vast majority of adults," he explained.

"The potential risk from this rare blood clotting condition is extremely low and a definite link to vaccination has not yet been established.

"The risk/benefit calculation is different for those under 30 due to the reduced threat posed to this age group by Covid and the availability of other vaccines.

"For the rest of us, it is essential to understand that Covid-19 represents a much greater risk.

"Covid-19 has claimed many lives in Northern Ireland and left many others with debilitating long-term health issues.

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"It is also the case that Covid infection itself brings an increased risk of blood clots.

"It is thanks in no small measure to the AstraZeneca vaccine that Northern Ireland is in a much better position than it was at the start of the year.

"It (the vaccine) will continue to have a vital role in saving lives, reducing hospitalisations and helping us move out of lockdown.

"Like hundreds of thousands of other people in Northern Ireland, I was very pleased and relieved to receive my first AstraZeneca dose. I am looking forward to receiving my second jab when my turn comes."

According to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the likelihood of developing a clot is "about four in a million".

The watchdog said it had received 79 reports of clots up to the end of March.

Of these cases, 19 people died, but every cause of death has yet to be established.

In light of the cases, people aged 30 and under are to be offered an alternative to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Separately, Health Secretary Matt Hancock stressed the UK had enough Pfizer and Moderna jabs to vaccinate adults under the age of 30.

He also sought to reassure the public that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was safe.

"The safety system that we have around this vaccine is so sensitive that it can pick up events that are four in a million (the chances of developing a rare brain blood clot)," he said.

"I’m told this is about the equivalent risk of taking a long-haul flight."


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