Following an anouncement today by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), that people under 30 who are unvaccinated should be offered an alternative vaccine to the AstraZeneca jab, if available, the Welsh Government has issued the following statement:

"We are considering the details of today’s announcements by the MHRA and the JCVI but we do not envisage a delay to the roll out of our vaccine programme in Wales.

"The Oxford AstraZeneca (OAZ) vaccine remains safe and effective and has already saved thousands of lives. 

"The Welsh Government, Public Health Wales and NHS Wales are working with other agencies to continually monitor vaccine safety and will keep this issue under close review."

Speculation over the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine has grown in recent weeks after some rare cases of blood clotting in some of those vaccinated. 

The MHRA is still reviewing whether the AZ vaccine should be offered to under-30s in phase 2 of the vaccination rollout – which includes healthy adults aged under 49 – begins.

Second doses should continue to be given to all patients who had the AZ vaccine for their first dose, the JCVI added.

The recommendation follows MHRA’s review into reports of blood clots following vaccination, which had been thought to affect young women in particular.

The Welsh Government's statement issued this afternoon went on to say:

"In Wales, people’s safety will always come first and we will only use vaccines where it is safe to do so and the benefits continue to outweigh the risks.

"Vaccines are the best way out of this pandemic and provide strong protection against COVID-19 – it is important that when people are called forward, they should get their jab. To date, over 1.5 million people in Wales have received a first dose of vaccine and a further 475,000 have also received a second dose.

"Everybody who has already had a first dose of the OAZ vaccine should be reassured that they can receive a second dose of the same brand, irrespective of age."

The MHRA says more work is needed to review the matter but that based on the current evidence, the benefits of the AZ Covid vaccine continue to outweigh the risks for the ‘vast majority’ of people.

The MHRA is undertaking a detailed review into reports of an extremely rare and specific type of blood clot in some people who have received the OAZ vaccine. These clots have been reported in fewer than four in a million people vaccinated in the UK. They can also occur naturally and are a known side-effect of having had the COVID-19 virus itself

The MHRA has had 79 case reports of thrombosis following the first vaccine dose of the AZ vaccine – 19 people ‘have sadly died’, the MHRA said. Three out of the 19 were under 30.

MHRA chief Dr June Raine told a press conference today that 'safety monitoring systems' were detecting “a potential side effect of the Covid-19 vaccine AstraZeneca in an extremely small number of people”.

“The evidence is firming up and our review has concluded that, while it’s a strong possibility, more work is needed to establish beyond all doubt that the vaccine has caused these side effects,” she said.