STA, 8 April 2021 - Slovenia will not change its Covid-19 vaccination strategy for the time being, the head of the national immunisation advisory body has said after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced that unusual blood clots should be listed as a very rare side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Speaking for the commercial broadcaster POP TV last night, Bojana Beović, the head of the national advisory committee on immunisation, said Slovenia would not change its approach over the EMA announcement for the time being, which means the AstraZeneca vaccine remains reserved for 60-65-year-olds.
"The approach can obviously not be changed every few days, because it involves logistics on the ground [...] It doesn't appear to make sense to change any approach at the moment," said Beović, adding that the approach would likely be changed in mid-April as planned when the Johnson&Johnson vaccine is included as the fourth jab.
"I believe other European countries will have opted for certain approaches by then too. We're mainly looking at large European countries, which have experiences with those undesired events themselves," said Beović, the head of the Slovenian Medical Chamber who used to serve as the chief Covid-19 advisor to the government.
Slovenia has not recorded any case of such blood clotting linked to the jab thus far.
Beović made the comments after Health Minister Janez Poklukar announced he would call on the national advisory committee on immunisation to examine EMA's findings and to put forward its position on the issue.
Yesterday afternoon EMA said it had concluded there was a possibility of very rare cases of blood clots combined with low levels of blood platelets occurring within two weeks of vaccination with the AstraZeneca jab, which should be listed as a very rare side effect of the vaccine.
EMA also said the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks of side effects, urging those responsible to continue to administer the vaccine.
After the announcement, EU health ministers met for an informal virtual meeting, but failed to reach an agreement on joint guidance on the vaccine's use.
In his address, Minister Poklukar said Slovenia was closely monitoring the situation and taking appropriate precautionary measures.
According to a press release from his ministry, Poklukar also said it would be welcome if EU member states managed to reach unity in response to EMA's conclusions, possibly including on criteria for the age limit on vaccination with the AstraZeneca jab if that should be necessary.
Poklukar also underscored that enhancing trust in vaccination was the best tool available in the fight against the pandemic.