The AstraZeneca vaccine is safe and the benefits outweigh the risks, according to the UK’s medicines regulator.

The UK’s independent health regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), has reviewed reports of links between extremely rare blood clots and the Covid-19 vaccine. 

Its advice is that the benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risks of blood clots and that the vaccine is safe and effective. And it confirmed that anyone who has had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should still have their second dose of the same one.

The MHRA says it is preferable for people under 30, with no underlying health conditions, to be offered an alternative vaccine where possible, once they are eligible. 

In a recent Downing Street Coronavirus Briefing, Deputy Chief Medical officer Jonathan Van Tam compared the risks of a side effect from the AstraZeneca vaccine to the risk of a side effect from taking everyday medicine, such as paracetamol, to show that potential issues always have to be weighed up against benefits of taking medicine. 

He said: “All medicines have side effects, and all medicines have benefits. You have to look at both sides and say, ‘how big are the benefits compared to the risks?’”

He said there were rare side effects with paracetamol such as skin rash, mouth sores, fever and difficulty breathing. “These are the documented rare side effects of paracetamol,” he added, “But we all understand the benefits, and this is no different a situation.”

Wolverhampton’s Director of Public Health John Denley added: “Please do not be put off by the extremely rare reports of blood clots; if you have had your first dose of AstraZeneca and did not have any issues with blood clots, you should still have your second dose too.

“The risks have been assessed by the medicines regulator and the AstraZeneca vaccine has been confirmed as safe and effective.”

Covid-19 vaccinations are available to anyone aged 45 and over; anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable; frontline health and social care workers; and people who are in receipt of Carer's Allowance or are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if their carer falls ill.

For more information about the vaccine, including the answers to frequently asked questions, please visit Covid-19 Vaccine or NHS. People will need to register with a GP surgery in England in order to receive the vaccine. For more details, please visit NHS