The government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation made the announcement at a press conference today amid concerns of a link between the jab and extremely rare blood clots.
They explained healthy adults aged between 18 and 29-years-old without underlying health conditions should instead be offered an alternative vaccine where it is available to do so.
It comes as the UK medicines regulator revealed there had been 79 cases of blood clots associated with low platelet cells in the blood, of which 19 people had died.
All the cases occurred after the first dose of the vaccine, and there are already over 100,000 under-30s in Scotland who have been given just one dose of vaccine, most likely AZ.
MHRA chief Dr June Raine told a press conference the safety monitoring systems were detecting “a potential side effect of the Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca in an extremely small number of people”.
She said: “The evidence is firming up and our review has concluded that, while it’s a strong possibility, more work is needed to establish beyond all doubt that the vaccine has caused these side effects.
“Based on the current evidence, the benefits of the Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca against Covid-19 and its associated risks – hospitalisation and death – continues to outweigh the risks for the vast majority of people.
“Our review has reinforced that the risk of this rare suspected side effect remains extremely small.
England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam insisted the changes being proposed to the vaccination rollout were a “course correction”.
He said: “The UK vaccine programme has been the most enormous success indeed.
“If you had said to me that by March 2021 we would not have needed a course correction, that also would have amazed me.”
Emer Cooke, executive director of the European Medicines Agency, sought to downplay any concerns about blood clots.
She said: “These are very rare side effects.
“The risk of mortality from Covid is much greater than risk of mortality from these side effects.”