NORTH-East doctors are urging people to come for their Covid-19 vaccines, with reports of an increase in missed appointments due to fears about safety.
Middlesbrough doctor Ifti Lone, of the Eston Primary Care Network, is reassuring patients about its safety and is urging people to come for their jabs.
A number of European countries have paused the rollout of the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine after reports of blood clots in a small number of recipients.
Dr Lone, who is a GP at Normanby Medical Centre, said: “We have seen an increase in the number of patients missing their vaccine appointments due to fears over safety.
“This is very concerning. Getting vaccinated is the best thing you can do for your health. People are putting themselves at risk by not doing so.
“I along with everybody at the Eston Primary Care Network strongly advise that people attend their appointments and get vaccinated.”
Doctors across Teesside and Darlington are trying to reassure people that the vaccine is safe.
Dr Janet Walker, medical director, Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), backed the findings of Dr Phil Bryan, vaccine, safety lead at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the organisation responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work and are safe and effective, after he confirmed that there was no reason for concern.
“The MHRA has advised that there is no evidence to suggest that the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab is linked to blood clots,” said Dr Walker.
“It has clarified that blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon. More than 11 million doses of the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca have been administered across the UK, and the number of blood clots reported, after having the vaccine, is not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the vaccinated population.
“Of course we understand that these reports have been extremely worrying for people but it remains vitally important that we continue with the vaccination campaign and that people attend for their jab when invited, to ensure that we carry on saving as many lives as possible.”
The World Health Organisation has also given its backing to the AstraZeneca vaccine stating there is no link between the jab and the increased risk of developing a clot.
Penny Spring, director of public health, Darlington Borough Council, said: “It is understandable that the recent controversy around the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has caused some concern.
“However, people who were worried about the vaccine can rest assured that there is no evidence of the jab causing blood clots.
“If you have already had your first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, it is essential that you get your second dose when it is offered to you.
“It is only by having both doses that you can ensure the vaccine provides the best possible protection against Covid-19.”
Dr Amanda Riley, clinical director, Darlington Primary Care Network, added: “If people are still unsure as to whether to have their vaccine, their vaccinator will be able to talk it through with them and give them all the reassurance they need.
“Please keep your vaccine appointment.”
European countries are split over the suspension.
France, Germany, Spain and Italy have paused their rollout while other EU members, including Poland and Belgium, are continuing its use.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) – the EU’s regulator – said it was still “firmly convinced” of the benefits of the AstraZeneca drug
Redcar MP Jacob Young, who met Dr Lone yesterday, criticised the EU for undermining trust in the safety of Covid-19 vaccines and said leaders were putting lives at risk by undermining the vaccine.
He said: “For the EU to be embarrassed about its handling of vaccine procurement is one thing. To undermine trust in the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to divert attention away from that failure is irresponsible and shameful.
“EU leaders are literally putting lives at risk by suspending the rollout of Oxford/Astrazeneca and the result is that it’s undermining trust in its safety in the UK.
“While they’re playing politics on the Continent, in Teesside we have seen an increase in cancelled and non-attended appointments for jabs because people are afraid.
“I want to be absolutely clear. There is absolutely no evidence that this vaccine causes blood clots.
“Our own Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the World Health Organisation and now the EMA have all said the vaccine should continue to be administered.
“I implore everybody in Teesside – get vaccinated. It may save your life.”
Yesterday, The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued a new statement saying it was also evaluating the reports, but still believed the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweighed any risks.
The NHS has already has vaccinated over one million people across the North East and North Cumbria, including those aged over 80, nine out of ten older care home residents, large numbers of front line health staff, people aged over 65 as well as adults with long term health conditions.