IT’S been hailed as the route out of the pandemic, but sadly the Covid vaccine is not suitable for everyone.
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The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) confirmed their priority list for the Pfizer vaccine roll out after the jab was given the green light.
Today the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab was also approved for use and the first doses are expected to be rolled out within days.
Sir Munir Pirmohamed today updated this advice and said the safety profile of the new Oxford jab is similar to the Pfizer jab.
“There is limited data on this vaccine in pregnant or breast feeding women,” he said.
“Women should discuss the benefits and risks of having the vaccine with their healthcare professional, based on their own individual circumstances and reach a decision together.”
Pregnant women were initially told not to have the jab because there is a lack of evidence about how it affects expectant mums.
The JCVI states: “There are no data as yet on the safety of Covid-19 vaccines in pregnancy, either from human or animal studies.
“Given the lack of evidence, the JCVI favours a precautionary approach, and does not currently advise Covid-19 vaccination in pregnancy.
“Women should be advised not to come forward for vaccination if they may be pregnant or are planning a pregnancy within three months of the first dose”.
The JCVI adds that it is expects data to be made available from clinical trials, and will review that to update their guidance.
Those who are breast-feeding should also ask for advice from a doctor or pharmacist before receiving the vaccine.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer for England, said there is not enough information on pregnant women because none of the trials for the vaccine deliberately included them.
The JCVI said it would review any new data once it was produced.
Adam Finn, a professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, says it is normal practice to avoid giving vaccines to pregnant women “unless there is evidence to support safety”.
He added: “This is because of the very high need to avoid risk to the mother, the baby and the pregnancy.
“Equally there is a need to provide protection to pregnant women against infection – accordingly it is a priority to obtain the necessary information to confirm whether this is safe. But this takes time.”
Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said medicines, drugs and vaccines are only authorised for use in groups where there is evidence of efficacy and safety.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is seen as game-changing within Whitehall, as its low price and ease of storage will allow the government to vaccinate people more quickly.
Over 600,000 people have been vaccinated so far in the UK, according to data released ahead of Christmas.
Children under the age of 16 are also on the list of people who won’t be offered the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.
As with pregnant women, this is because of a lack of evidence as to whether it is safe.
The JCVI said children infected with Covid-19 are either asymptomatic or experience mild symptoms.
It said: “The committee advises that only those children at very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes, such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities that require residential care, should be offered vaccination.”
Anyone with allergies
Anyone with an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine has been warned not to have it.
The government’s leaflet for UK residents says the vaccine’s active substance is BNT162b2 RNA.
Previous advice from the MHRA said people with a range of allergies to food and medicines should not be given the Pfizer vaccine.
Dr June Raine today said growing evidence from a pool of at least 800,000 people in the UK and probably 1.5 million people in the US who have had the vaccine, has “raised no additional concerns”.
This, she continued, “gives us further assurance that the risk of anaphylaxis can be managed through standard clinical guidance and an observation period following vaccination of at least 15 minutes.”
The Commission on Human Medicines has now advised that anyone with allergy to food or other medicine or vaccine can have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
“Of course, anyone with a history of allergic reaction to this vaccine, or its ingredients, should not”, she added.
After dilution, the vial contains five doses, of 0.3 mL with 30 micrograms mRNA each.
The other ingredients are listed as:
- ALC-0315 = (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate)
- ALC-0159 = 2[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide,
- potassium chloride
- potassium dihydrogen phosphate
- sodium chloride
- disodium hydrogen phosphate dihydrate
The NHS says having an allergic reaction to a vaccine is very rare but people should speak to their GPs if they know of any allergies they have.