Italy recommends AstraZeneca COVID vaccine only for over-60s

FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, as vaccinations resume after a brief pause in their use over concern for possible connection to blood clots, in Turin, Italy, March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Massimo Pinca/File Photo

ROME (Reuters) – Italy will from now on recommend the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine only for people over aged 60, the country’s top health adviser said after the European regulator found possible links between the vaccine and rare cases of blood clots.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza took the decision following consultation with experts and “other institutional figures,” Franco Locatelli, head of Italy’s Superior Health Council, told reporters on Wednesday.

Locatelli said people who had already taken a first dose of AstraZeneca could proceed with the second dose. Officials said the government was recommending that the product be avoided for under-60s but not prohibiting it.

“Anyone who wants to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca can continue to be,” said Giovanni Rezza, another member of Italy’s health council at the same news conference.

More than a dozen countries at one time suspended use of the vaccine, which has been given to tens of millions in Europe.

Most have resumed but some, including France, the Netherlands and Germany, have set a minimum age for its use. Locatelli said Spain had also decided to set a minimum age at a video-call with other ministers on Wednesday.

Italy originally limited AstraZeneca to people under the age of 65 because trials showed it offered less protection against COVID-19 than other vaccines. On March 8 the health ministry said it could also be administered to over-65s.

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