Spain limits AstraZeneca vaccine to 60 years and up

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - Spain joined other European countries on Wednesday to restrict the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the elderly amid concerns about its link to extremely rare blood clotting.
Spanish Health Minister Carolina Darias announced after meeting with regional health chiefs that authorities would limit the shots to those over 60.
So far, Spain has been using AstraZeneca on its younger population and limiting the number of those under 65. Darias said authorities would now consider lifting the cap on the shot, which is an important pillar of the national vaccination schedule.
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"Our strategy with AstraZeneca is turning," said Darias.
The decision comes hours after the European Medicines Agency said it found a "possible link" between the shot and the rare blood clot.
Last week, Germany and France restricted the vaccine to older groups, and on Wednesday UK authorities recommended not to give the vaccine to adults under 30.
The EMA did not recommend such age restrictions and stressed that the vaccine’s benefits far outweigh the very rare cases of thrombosis.
Spain was one of the European countries that temporarily stopped using the AstraZeneca vaccine last month when the first fear of blood clots was reported. So far, Spain had reserved Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for people over 65.
Darias said her government would consider what to do with the Spaniards under 60, who have already received the first shot of the two AstraZeneca needs to be fully effective. As of Wednesday, 2.1 million had received a first shot of the vaccine while only 97 had received the second shot. It wasn't clear how many of those more than 2 million people waiting for a second shot were under 60.
Darias said they will look into giving them a second dose of a different vaccine or leaving them with the one shot that would provide some protection.
The big change in vaccination strategy comes a day after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told the nation that his government is sticking to its forecast of vaccinating 70% of Spain's adult population - around 33 million people - by the end of the summer.
Despite the U-turn on the groups AstraZeneca is slated to receive, Darias said she is confident Spain will hit that milestone.
Over 2 million of the total of 9.3 million doses administered in Spain were AstraZeneca recordings, which are cheaper and easier to store and transport.
"The vaccination strategy will change," she added, mentioning plans to launch the Janssen vaccine in the coming weeks.
Darias said that "a majority" of the regions agreed to the new age limit, but the Madrid region complained that they did not support the decision.
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Follow all AP pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
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Carolina Darias
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