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Better safe than sorry! DOH, FDA halt use of AstraZeneca vaccine over blood clot reports overseas

The Department of Health (DOH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines for adults younger than 60 years old over reports linking it to blood clotting incidents overseas.

The decision came after European regulators found a link between rare incidences of blood clots and low platelet counts suffered by vaccine recipients abroad.

“I want to emphasize that this temporary suspension DOES NOT MEAN that the vaccine is unsafe or ineffective—it just means that we are taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of every Filipino,” FDA chief Eric Domingo said in a statement Thursday (April 8).

“We continue to underscore that the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh the risks and we urge everyone to get vaccinated when it’s their turn,” he added.

Around 480,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm arrived in the Philippines last month. It was given to select health workers and senior citizens.

Several private companies have ordered AstraZeneca vaccines for their employees under the initiative led by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion. The shipment is expected to arrive this June.

Meanwhile, China-made Sinovac has been cleared for use even for senior citizens despite limited clinical data on its effectivity for the elderly.

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