Reassurance about the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine

The Medicines and Healthcare product Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) have updated guidance in relation to the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine

There have been reports of an extremely rare adverse event of blood clots and unusual bleeding following vaccination with the first dose of AstraZeneca.

Although this condition remains extremely rare there appears to be a slightly higher risk in people shortly after the first dose of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine. Around 4 people develop this condition for every million doses of AZ vaccine doses given.

This is seen slightly more often in younger people and tends to occur between 4 days and 2 weeks following vaccination.

Further guidance can be found at: COVID-19 vaccination and blood clotting – GOV.UK 


What you should know

Common side effects

It’s normal to experience side effects after the vaccine. Not everyone gets side effects but if you do, most are mild and should not last longer than a week. They may include:

  • A sore arm where the needle went in
  • Headache or muscle ache
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Feeling tired

You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to.

You may get a high temperature or feel hot or shivery 1 or 2 days after having your vaccination.


What to look out for after vaccination

Serious side effects are very rare. Call 111 immediately if you get any of these symptoms starting from around 4 days to 4 weeks after being vaccinated:

  • a severe headache that is not relieved with painkillers or is getting worse
  • a headache that feels worse when you lie down or bend over
  • a headache that's unusual for you and occurs with blurred vision, feeling or being sick, problems speaking, weakness, drowsiness or seizures (fits)
  • a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin
  • shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal (tummy) pain


What happens next?

First doses

Anyone aged under 30 currently eligible for a vaccination will not be sent an appointment for their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine but will be contacted when we have alternative vaccine available. Some under 30 year olds who have an underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease should have a discussion with their GP about the risks and benefits of a prompt AZ vaccine versus the risk of waiting for an alternative vaccine.

Everyone over 30 years should attend their vaccination appointment, the benefits of prompt vaccination in this age group outweigh the risks of AZ vaccine. Staff at the vaccination centre will be available to discuss any questions you have.

Second doses

If you have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and had no adverse reaction, you should continue to have a second dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, irrespective of age.

The Covid-19 vaccines continue to be safe and effective for most and we would advise people attend appointments when invited. Consultation will be offered when you attend and any concerns can be discussed.

More information is available here.


Review Date: 2021-03-11
Review Due: 2021-03-19
Model Publication Scheme Class: Class 9: Services Commissioned