UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been given his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine even while some countries in Europe continue to restrict its rollout.
- Boris Johnson has encouraged UK residents to get the AstraZeneca vaccine
- The European watchdog this week said the vaccine was safe to use, after reports of blood clots
- France has resumed using the vaccine for people over 55, Italy has also resumed its rollout
Mr Johnson urged the public to also get the vaccine, saying he “did not feel a thing”.
The safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine has been brought into question recently, after reports of some people dying of blood clots after receiving the dose.
The company said there have been just 37 cases of blood clots reported, from more than 45 million doses administered.
Several European countries have halted the use of the vaccine.
Austria and Denmark were among the first countries to stop the vaccination rollout, followed by Italy and France.
Other counties that have suspended the rollout include Bulgaria, Cyprus, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania and Spain.
Despite this, Mr Johnson said he had no issue taking the first dose of the vaccine.
“I cannot recommend it too highly, everybody when you do get your notification to go for a jab, please go and get it, it is the best thing for you, best thing for your family and for everyone else,” he said.
Mr Johnson took the vaccine on a day when France and Poland reintroduced partial lockdowns after a sharp rise in infections in recent weeks.
France’s new restrictions affected 21 million people in 16 regions.
Shops, hotels, cultural and sporting facilities were closed across Poland for at least three weeks after the biggest spike in infections since November.
Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Germany may soon need to apply an “emergency brake” and reintroduce lockdown measures.
Meanwhile, Italy lifted its ban on the AstraZeneca vaccine after the EMA endorsed its use, with new Prime Minister Mario Draghi announcing he would take the jab.
“It’s clear that the revocation of the suspension is for us a great relief because we have to strongly accelerate the vaccination campaign,” said Dr Giovanni Rezza, the head of prevention at the Italian Health Ministry.
Dr Rezza told reporters in Rome that Italy only reluctantly halted the campaign out of an abundance of caution, but needed to ramp it back up quickly to make up for lost time now.
He said Italy needed to more than double the 200,000 vaccinations per day the country had reached before the suspension to reach its goal of inoculating 80 per cent of the population by September.
Health experts have expressed concern that even though the suspensions were brief, they could still damage confidence in the vaccine at a time when many people are already hesitant to take a shot that was developed so quickly.
Other nations including Germany, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands have announced they will also resume their rollouts.
Sweden, Norway and Denmark, said they would wait another week before deciding whether to resume.
Finland decided to pause the vaccine for the first time Friday, saying it would suspend use for a week while it investigated two suspected cases of blood clots.
The Australian government this week dismissed any notion of not administering the AstraZeneca doses which have arrived.
On Wednesday, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said their was no reason to stop the rollout based on the evidence.
“I remain confident that it is safe,” he said.
“The Therapeutic Goods Administration is aware of the issue and also doesn’t see any link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots.”
Professor Kelly said there had been no increased incidence of blood clots in Australians who had already received the AstraZeneca vaccine here.
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