Malta Medicines Authority recommends no change in AstraZeneca vaccine roll-out

The authority is encouraging vaccinated people and healthcare professionals to be aware of potential side effects of any vaccine. 

The Malta Medicines Authority has reaffirmed that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risk of side effects, while encouraging vaccinated people and healthcare professions to be aware of any potential side effects.

In an interim statement published on Thursday, the Malta Medicines Authority explained that side effects within two or three days following vaccination is expected and common, the majority of which are mild and local in nature. 

"However, individuals who experience any severe symptoms - such as shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, persistent abdominal (belly) pain, neurological symptoms, such as severe and persistent headaches or blurred vision, tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of injection - from around four to 20 days following vaccination, should seek medical attention," the authority warned. 

The medicines watchdog said that it will continue to monitor the roll-out of all COVID-19 vaccines, while working with other competent authorities and with the health vaccination team, to manage any potential risks while using science and data to drive response and recommendation. 

"The recommendation is to continue to prevent serious harm and loss of life by using all the highly effective vaccines having an EU Marketing Authorisation," it stated.

On Wednesday, the European Medicines Authority (EMA) confirmed that cases of thrombosis from the AstraZeneca vaccine have been predominantly reported in people under 60 and women.

However, EMA has stopped short of issuing any guidelines or age restrictions since a study of 62 cases of vaccine-induced thrombosis across Europe has been unable to identify common risk factors.