Three days after the AstraZeneca University Oxford vaccine was discontinued, health officials decided to start using this drug again in Portugal. The coordinator of the task force responsible for the national vaccination schedule, Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, said this vaccine will be re-administered from Monday and announced that the suspension will postpone vaccination by one week about 120,000 people.
The decision was announced at a joint press conference between the Task Force, Directorate-General for Health (DGS) and Infarmed (National Authority for Medicines and Health Products) after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) confirmed the safety and effectiveness of the AstraZeneca this Thursday Vaccine that had been suspended in several European countries, including Portugal. Following the notification from the European regulator, Portugal has decided to reintroduce this vaccine into its national vaccination schedule, similar to other countries such as France and Italy.
EMA continues to view the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 as “safe and effective”. At the online press conference, however, he couldn’t rule out a cause-and-effect relationship between the rare cases of blood clot formation with decreased platelets in several countries, in which nine people died and more than one died ten related to the vaccination campaign to expose this vaccine. “It is recommended that health professionals be aware of possible side effects,” said Emer Cooke, director of the EMA, adding that more studies will be conducted while vaccinating against Covid-19, a disease that can be fatal is continued.
At the joint press conference at the Ministry of Health, Infarmed President Rui Ivo said that the conclusions of the European regulator regarding the drug’s safety and efficacy were very clear. “I think the EMA’s conclusions on the two main issues were clear. First, the benefits of the vaccine clearly outweigh the risk of side effects. This became very clear in the committee’s conclusions. It has also been reported that the vaccine was not associated with an overall increased risk of blood clots when administered. These conclusions are very clear in the report, ”stressed Rui Ivo.
What will happen from now on? The second dose of AstraZeneca has been postponed, but Henrique Gouveia e Melo guarantees that this delay will be resolved quickly. “In terms of the number of people who haven’t been vaccinated, there are almost 120,000 people who we have postponed vaccination for a week. We will regain this vaccination very quickly and will continue to vaccinate people other than this 120,000. Another week or a week and a half we have the plan back, as if we hadn’t taken a break, ”believes the coordinator of the task force.
Pre-school and first cycle teachers and non-teachers whose vaccination was originally scheduled for this weekend will be vaccinated a week later, on the 27th and 28th of this month. “The number of vaccines that AstraZeneca had forecast for the second quarter was around 4.4 million and has been reduced to around 1.5 million vaccines. That is why the plans have already been made, they are already adapted to these quantities. In addition to starting vaccination with AstraZeneca this Monday, teachers will always be vaccinated the following weekend, ”said Gouveia e Melo.
Vaccinating teachers does not mean “overtaking” other priority groups such as the elderly over 80 years of age and high-risk patients over 50 years of age, assured the General Director of Health, Graça Freitas vaccinating two strains in parallel: people with comorbidities and teachers and non-teachers at the same time. Schools are the sector that is suspected first and therefore, in order to further protect the school community, they will be vaccinated teachers with the real expectation that we will receive other brands of vaccines to continue efforts to vaccinate at risk groups, ”explained Graça Freitas.
Can the vaccine be refused?
What if people reject the AstraZeneca vaccine? At first, the Director General of Health, Graça Freitas, did not react directly, stressing the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. “If we choose to circulate and administer a vaccine, it is because it guarantees us that it is safe, effective and of good quality. If a vaccine is offered, regardless of the brand, you have to accept it. The risk of illness, serious illness, hospitalization, and unwanted death is much higher. Regardless of the brand of vaccine, if the Portuguese authorities make a vaccine available to citizens, it is because the vaccine has characteristics such as safety, efficacy and quality, where its benefits outweigh the risks. This is what people need to be aware of: when they are vaccinated, they are protecting themselves from a potentially serious disease, ”he advised.
Given the persistence of journalists, Graça Freitas has clarified this issue a little better, which means that anyone who refuses to take the AstraZeneca vaccine or any other will refuse to be vaccinated. “Refusing a vaccine means not protecting yourself and not protecting yourself from a serious illness. The alternative [para quem recusa tomar uma qualquer vacina de qualquer marca] It is these people who remain vulnerable and prone to a disease that can be serious and fatal, ”said the Director General of Health.