RCGP responds to change in JCVI guidance

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, responds to news from the MHRA and JCVI about the safety of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccination for COVID-19.

He said: "Today's announcement from the MHRA, and also the EMA, should be taken as reassurance for patients that overall, the benefits of taking the AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 outweigh the risks. The cautionary change the JCVI is recommending is that for adults aged 18-29 with no underlying conditions that could put them at greater risk of COVID-19, other vaccines should be offered, if available.

"We now need assurance that there will be enough supply of other vaccines to be able to vaccinate patients aged 18-29, if they choose not to have the AZ vaccine. Vaccination sites also need clear guidance on how administering some vaccines to some patients and other vaccines to other patients should be managed - and we need clear communication as to when vaccine supplies should be expected, with changes to these schedules kept to a minimum.

"It's vital that patients understand that the risk of developing blood clots after receiving the AZ vaccine is incredibly low for all patient groups. Patients who have received a first dose of the AZ vaccine already and suffered no serious side effects, should be assured the vaccine is safe and come back for their second vaccine.

"More than 20m people have received a dose of the AZ vaccine in the UK. The vast majority of patients who have had the AZ vaccine will have experienced either no side effects or expected minor side effects, such as an aching arm or flu-like symptoms, which are self-limiting.

"GPs and our teams - with colleagues across the NHS - have been working incredibly hard delivering the COVID vaccination programme, protecting patients from the virus, and generally, uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine has been very high. It's important this is maintained and we would continue to urge all people to come forward for their vaccination when invited. Getting vaccinated is the best protection we have against the virus, and the more people who have the vaccine, the better."

Further information

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RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7633/7494/7574
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Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.