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Belgium restricts use of J&J coronavirus vaccine to over-41s after death

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Belgium Wednesday said it would no longer give people aged 41 and younger Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine after the death of a woman.

The health ministry said the woman died on May 21 after being admitted to hospital with severe thrombosis and platelet deficiency — rare side effects the European Medicines Agency has previously said could be linked to the vaccine following analysis of cases in the U.S.

Belgium has asked the EMA to evaluate whether the vaccine was linked to the death of the woman, who received the vaccine through her employer, reported Reuters.

“The inter-ministerial conference has decided to temporarily administer Janssen’s vaccine to the general population from the age of 41 years, pending a more detailed benefit-risk analysis by the EMA,” Belgium’s health ministers said in a statement.

The European Medicines Agency is due to update journalists on Friday on the latest assessments of the vaccines in use in the EU. Thrombosis with low platelets has been listed as a possible very rare but serious side effect with both the J&J and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines.

Countries including Denmark and Norway have dropped both vaccines from their programs, while other countries have opted to restrict their use to older adults.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial. 

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