AstraZeneca vaccine not used in Jamaica since July 2022 - CMO

Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie
By Nakinskie Robinson    
The Ministry of Health has moved to allay worries about the likelihood of developing side effects associated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
This comes in light of growing concerns, after an application to withdraw the medicine worldwide took effect on May 7.
That withdrawal also comes months after the pharmaceutical company admitted for the first time in court documents that the vaccine, in rare cases, can cause Thrombosis - a clot within blood vessels that limits the flow of blood.
AstraZeneca said the vaccine was being removed from markets for commercial reasons and that the timing of the two events was coincidental.
It said the vaccine was no longer being manufactured or supplied, having been superseded by updated vaccines that tackle new variants.
Speaking during Wednesday morning's post-Cabinet press briefing, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie said the benefits of the vaccine, during the pandemic, had outweighed the risk. 
"The side effects I note that persons are concerned about tend to happen between three days to three months. So some persons are wondering - if I had received AstraZeneca then, in 2021 and early 2022, am I still going to have these possibilities of these side effects - and the answer is no. As I said, the ministry still continues to collect information on persons who think they may have suffered side effects and we investigate them," she noted. 
"The other vaccine manufacturers had developed new vaccines against the new variants that were coming on, and AstraZeneca did not. It's simply a matter that the technology that was used for the production of AstraZeneca does not lend itself to so much manipulation, which is the viral vector technology," added the Chief Medical Officer.  
There has been no documented case of the AstraZeneca-related side effects in Jamaica.
But, Dr. Bisasor McKenzie stressed that the vaccine is no longer being administered in the country, in any event. 
"We continue to vaccinate against COVID, following the WHO guidance in terms of boosters that are available, and since July 2022, that is when our last dose of AstraZeneca, the set that we had expired, we have not been offering AstraZeneca anymore," she said. 

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