COVID-19 vaccinations using the AstraZeneca vaccine have been temporarily suspended, as a precaution, on the basis of a recommendation of the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI). The PEI is of the opinion that further investigations are needed. The Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn explained, “Today’s decision is a purely precautionary measure.” Germany will now await the results of further analysis and evaluation. The outcome is open.
More investigations needed
Several European states had already stopped administering the AstraZeneca vaccine against the background of newly reported cases of cerebral vein thrombosis in temporal proximity to vaccinations using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. This led the PEI to reassess the situation and recommend that administration of the vaccine be temporarily suspended as a precautionary measure while further investigations are conducted. The suspension affects both first vaccination and the second shot.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will decide whether and how the new findings impact on the authorisation of the vaccine. Once the scientific investigations have been completed and the EMA has come to a decision, it can be decided whether to resume vaccinations.
What do I need to watch if I have had the AstraZeneca vaccine?
The PEI points out that anyone who has had the AstraZeneca vaccine and feels increasingly unwell 4 to 14 days after the vaccine should seek medical attention immediately (if they, for instance, suffer strong and persistent headaches or if pinpoint round spots appear on the skin as the result of bleeding (petechiae)).
A distinction must be made between a reaction to the vaccination and side effects. Reactions to the inoculation are seen immediately and generally only last a day. They are a sign that the body is producing an immune response and are not grounds for concern. Anyone noting side effects three days after the vaccination, however, should seek medical attention.
That is not yet clear. The first vaccination does, however, already provide good protection against a severe outcome should one become infected. It is not dangerous to miss the second shot. If the vaccine is still authorised for use though, everyone who has had the first vaccination should definitely take up the second one, which increases the protection significantly.
The Federal Ministry of Health answers other key questions about the suspension of the use of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine in FAQs here.
“We must give the experts time to investigate the recent cases”
“To uphold confidence in the vaccine, we need to give our experts in Germany and in the European Union time to review the most recent cases,” said Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn. They must also clarify whether the benefits of the vaccination still outweigh any risks. Because one thing is clear – not vaccinating also has serious health consequences.”
PEI President Klaus Cichutek explained that German findings must now be discussed in a European context, and compared with European data. “I believe that citizens want to be able to rely on the fact that the vaccines we offer are safe and effective,” he said.