Controversy over De Jonge call to halt AstraZeneca vaccine for under-60s
The government’s decision on Thursday to officially stop the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for under 60-year-olds was met with substantial critique from doctors and researchers. Some argue the decision should rest in the hands of the people themselves.
In total, eight cases of thrombosis with a low platelet count within weeks of a first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine were reported in the Netherlands. All eight were women between the ages of 23 and 65. Adverse reactions in other European countries caused the European Medical Agency (EMA) to reevaluate the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which determined that the condition was a possible rare side effect of the vaccine occurring in fewer than .001 percent of people.
Despite being declared safe by the EMA, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge decided to halt the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for under 60-year-olds. For Dutch residents above 60, the AstraZeneca vaccine will continue to be used because “the risk of health damage as a result of Covid-19 in people under 60 is many times greater than the risk of the very rare.
The decision was not seen as an ideal solution by the Dutch Thrombosis Institute. According to the research center, people should be free to choose if they want the AstraZeneca vaccine or not.
“People who are unnerved can also say: No, I don’t want it. That gives people more control and therefore, peace”, director of the Thrombosis Institute, Stans van Egmond says to the ANP.
"It seems that the decision to stop vaccination also for people in their 40s and 50s is illogical", Egmond says to the NLtimes.
She wonders if de Jonge has a solution for people under 60 who suffer from a medical pre-condition or have a physical disability. “Especially people in their 50s with health problems run a much higher risk to develop a severe case of Covid."
The pause of the AstraZeneca vaccine already caused general practitioners to have to again reevaluate their vaccination plans. The decision by the government to extend the suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine in younger age groups brought more confused patients to doctors' doors. General practitioners say they are currently already overburdened in keeping up with vaccinations.
“The feasibility and execution power of general practitioners has been stretched to the limit. GPs are being bombarded with questions about vaccines”, said Dr. Carin Littoij, a member of the General Practitioner’s Union.
Overall, the GGD has canceled 9,000 vaccination appointments with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Some 1,500 people over the age of 60 will still receive the AstraZeneca shot and will receive a new invitation shortly. The remaining 7,500 appointments have been definitively annulled.
It is not yet clear when these people will be vaccinated and which shot they will receive.