Belgium will stop giving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to people under age 56 for the next four weeks amid blood clot concerns, national and regional health ministers agreed today.
People aged 55 or younger will temporarily receive other vaccines, such as the BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna and soon the Johnson & Johnson jabs.
Health ministers said in a statement the move should have little to no impact on the country’s current vaccination campaign, since seniors over age 65 are currently the main people being prioritized for immunization, along with all adults who have comorbidities.
The age restriction decision will be reviewed after four weeks.
When asked by Belgian media what this would mean for those under age 56 who have already received their first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, a spokeswoman for Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said: “No European country as yet has an answer to this — excellent — question.”
She added that all options are still on the table, since studies are still ongoing in other countries.
The decision comes just after the European Medicines Agency confirmed earlier in the day a “possible link” to “very rare” cases of blood clotting, but still backed continued use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in all adults. British officials, however, also said today that anyone under the age of 30 should be offered a different vaccine.
Other European countries that have stopped giving the vaccine to people under a certain age include France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, North Macedonia and Finland. Denmark and Norway have suspended its use completely. It has also been restricted to older people in Canada, while the U.S. has not yet approved the vaccine.