Although the lockdown restrictions are slowly being lifted, the coronavirus is still a threat we need to be aware of. One of the main ways we can protect ourselves from the virus is by being vaccinated when it is our turn, as well as wearing face masks, washing hands, and continuing to social distance.
What is the Astra-Zeneca Vaccine and how does it work?
The Astra-Zeneca Vaccine, also known as the Oxford vaccine, is made from a weakened version of the common cold virus. Once you are injected with the virus, your immune system will learn how to fight the Coronavirus if you became infected with it. This vaccine is one of my main ones being distributed across the UK, as it is easier to store than other vaccines, as it can be stored in a normal fridge. The UK government has ordered 100 million doses of this particular vaccine.
Why are Under 30s being offered an alternative?
Whilst some adults have experienced headaches, dizziness, muscular pain or a fever after having the first dose of vaccine, there have been some more serious side effects in the younger generation. A recent recommendation has been made that people under the age of 30 should not be offered the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, but another one instead.
This is because the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has found evidence that the vaccine is linked to rare blood clots. However, the risk is very slim, with 4 in a million having a blood clot and one in a million dying. However, other sources claim that the risk of a rare blood clot is closer to one in 250,000 people. In light of this, many countries across Europe have restricted the vaccine and who receives it.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC that the vaccine is “safe, effective and the benefits far outweigh the risks for the vast majority of adults”.
More than 20 million doses of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine have been administered in the UK, and out of those, there were only 79 cases of extremely rare blood clots, but of these 79 people, 19 people have died, 3 of which were under the age of 30.
What are the alternatives?
There are several coronavirus vaccines available in the UK, and whilst the Astra-Zeneca vaccine may be one of the most popular, there are plenty of others just as effective. Due to the link with rare blood clots in the under 30, it is recommended that they have the Pfizer of Moderna vaccines instead.
However, over the next few months we expect to see even more vaccines rolled out, such as the Novavax, Valneva, Janssen, and GlaxoSmithKline vaccines.
What is the Pfizer vaccine?
The Pfizer vaccine is another primary vaccine against the Coronavirus in the UK and was found to be 95% effective during its trials. However, whilst effective, the vaccine is harder to distribute as it has to be stored at -70c.
What is the Moderna vaccine?
The Moderna vaccine was 94.1% effective in the trials that took place, and similarly to the Pfizer vaccine, it uses a messenger RNA to deliver genetic codes to cells in the body so that those cells can teach the immune system to produce antibodies to fight the coronavirus.
When can I have my vaccine?
At the moment, anyone aged 50 or over can have a vaccine or anyone who is a care home resident, healthcare worker, or someone that is required to shield. It is estimated that the under 30s will begin to be vaccinated over the next few months, but first the 40-49 year olds and 30-39 year olds will have to be vaccinated.