THE ‘benefits’ of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine ‘outweigh the risks’, a leading Cheshire NHS official has said.

Clare Watson, accountable officer for the NHS Cheshire clinical commissioning group (CCG) — the organisation leading the county’s vaccination roll-out — made the comments yesterday (April 7).

They were prompted by the recommendation from the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for under-30s to seek alternative coronavirus vaccines over a possible link to blood clots.

Ms Watson told Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Covid-19 outbreak board: “The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation have made a statement in terms of concerns of unusual blood clots. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) say those blood clots are very rare.

“Clearly, the benefits continue to outweigh the risks. 79 clots [were found] out of 20 million doses [delivered].

“Although that’s a concern, the benefits outweigh the risks. The AstraZeneca roll-out will not be halted in the UK. There has been a change in clinical advice in under-30s in that they should be offered an alternative vaccine.

“If you do have concerns, please speak to the people where you are going to get vaccinated. We will do everything we are required to do in terms of national and international guidance on this.”

Ms Watson also told the meeting that the CCG would release more information on the plan to vaccinate those aged 18-49 early next week.

On Thursday (April 8), Health Secretary Matt Hancock sought to reassure the public that the UK would have enough alternative vaccines to the AstraZeneca jabs to immunise under-30s.

He told BBC Breakfast: “The vaccines are safe, and if you want to have the Pfizer vaccine or Moderna vaccine instead then that is fine.

“Covid is a horrible disease and long Covid affects people in their 20s just as much it seems as any other age group and can have debilitating side effects that essentially ruin your life.”