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Coronavirus / People in their 30s to be given Pfizer vaccine for first dose after change in guidance

The Pfizer vaccine. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

NEW advice means NHS Shetland is adjusting how it will deliver vaccines to those in their thirties.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that, where possible, other vaccine should be used instead of AstraZeneca for those aged 30-39.

This means that in Shetland this age group will now be given the Pfizer vaccine for their first dose.

Anyone in this group who has already received the AstraZeneca vaccine will receive the same vaccine for their second dose.

The UK-wide advice from the JCVI changed after a review on extremely rare blood clot-related side effects.

This does not mean AstraZeneca cannot be used in this age group, only that an alternative is preferred.

The JCVI had already changed the guidelines for the 18-30 age group and decided it was appropriate to do the same for those aged 30-39.

NHS Shetland’s interim director of public health Dr Susan Laidlaw said the risk of clotting complications in those under 40 who received the AstraZeneca vaccination was very low.

“The JCVI is clear that in the 30-39 group, any of the UK vaccines is better than no vaccine, unless there are specific medical contra-indications.

“There may be some circumstances where NHS Shetland may still offer AstraZeneca because it is the only one that is practical under specific circumstances.”

More than 14,500 first doses and 8,800 second doses have already been completed in Shetland, with more than 650 individuals vaccinated at Gilbertson Park yesterday.

Brian Chittick, operational lead for the Covid vaccination programme, said a further five clinics were planned for next week and most of Shetland’s adult population would have received their first dose by the end of May.

“That’s well ahead of the national target date of the end of July,” he said.

Chittick added that NHS Shetland had been aware the guidance change was being prepared yesterday when an AstraZeneca mass vaccination clinic was underway at Gilbertson Park.

“Because of the imminent change we ensured that all those in the 30–40-year age range were made aware of the new guidance and offered them the opportunity of being rebooked into a Pfizer clinic at a later date.

“This is the first time we have offered a choice at our clinics and unfortunately this did mean there were some delays for people waiting to get their jab. We are sorry if anybody had to wait longer than they expected.”

He also said schedulers were struggling to contact people with many of the calls going unanswered.

“We are appealing to those under 40 who receive a call from an unknown telephone number to please answer as it may be the vaccination team calling with an appointment,” he said.

Unanswered calls will be followed up with further calls and eventually a letter if the schedulers cannot make contact. There is no need to contact NHS Shetland.