Move to offer under-30s AstraZeneca alternative 'has not increased vaccine hesitancy'

The recent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decision to offer under-30s an alternative to the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has not led to an increase in vaccine hesitancy, Scottish Government clinicians have said.

The decision was taken in early April over a possible link between the vaccine and “extremely rare” blood clots. It was not extended to the over-30s as they are at a higher risk from Covid-19 than younger age groups, and the virus presents a much greater danger than the vaccine.

The decision has not led to any increased vaccine hesitancy, National Clinical Director Jason Leitch said on Thursday.

Professor Leitch said: “I’ve heard and seen no data that suggests that that has led to anything.

"You get questions of course, vaccine hesitancy is a normal thing and we’re dealing with that as and when it occurs.”

Chief Medical Officer Gregor Smith added that vaccine take-up has been extremely good.

“At this point in time we’re not seeing any concerning data at all in relation to uptake of the vaccine, in fact quite the contrary,” he said.

“Since the beginning of the vaccination programme I have been absolutely buoyant at the number of people who've been stepping up to receive their vaccine.

“If you look at the most recent age group, which we are in the process of completing, people aged 50 to 54, even there we've got an uptake of 91 per cent at this point in time.

“These are absolutely incredible figures, and there's no vaccination programmes that we've conducted across this country which have got close so consistently across all these different age groups in terms of their uptake.

“There is no data at this point in time that causes me concern in relation to that uptake.”

It comes after a survey by Stirling University researchers found no significant drop in the number of people intending to get a vaccine in the wake of the updated guidance.

Dr David Comerford, of Stirling’s Behavioural Science Centre, said: “I was surprised – I thought we would see a change in response following the UK regulator’s new guidance.

“Perhaps not from the under-30s, who would be offered different vaccines, but if you were 31–35, say, we would have expected hesitancy."

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.