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Second jab up in the air for nearly a million people vaccinated with AstraZeneca in Spain

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been used for essential workers in Spain - under the age of 55. File photograph.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been used for essential workers in Spain - under the age of 55. File photograph. / SUR
  • Spain's Ministry of Health has stopped all vaccinations with the Oxford formula as a "precaution" and awaits a report from the European Medicines Agency to determine whether or not to continue with the process

The coronavirus vaccination campaign in Spain has suffered a major setback, after the Ministry of Health's decision - along with that of other countries - to stop vaccinating with doses of the AstraZeneca formula.

The Ministry of Health has ordered the immediate stop of all vaccinations with the Oxford formula for at least 15 days while it waits for a report from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to decide what to do with the vaccines from this laboratory.

The Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, explained that in Spain 939,534 doses of this vaccine have been administered "and only one case of thrombosis has appeared, but we have made the decision to stop the vaccinations out of caution."

Spain decided to "pause" the vaccinations with the AstraZeneca doses after it received news of the first case of these “strange” blood clots in Spain on Saturday.

The question now is what will happen to the almost one million people who have received this vaccine – the essential workers, aged under 55, such as teachers, security forces and social health workers - and if they are going to receive the second dose.

“The second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is given between 10 and 12 weeks after the first, so there is time to study the cases and make a decision. We must ask people for calm," said Health Minister Darias.

The director of the Spanish Medicines Agency, María Jesús Lamas, stressed at a press conference this Monday, “I insist on a message of calm. From this first dose of the vaccine, what can be expected is to have at least partial protection against COVID. The possibility of an adverse reaction exists with any drug, but these cases detected are very rare and the incidence is very low."

Lamas said it is important to have information on possible symptoms in case they appear. He said that in the reported cases, between three and 14 days after receiving the first dose, a “very severe and unusual headache was detected in the patients, which may be accompanied by vomiting, visual dysfunctions or irregular bleeding.”

Pending a decision, Spain will continue to receive doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which will be stored until the vaccination process can be resumed.