Finland set to resume use of AstraZeneca vaccine for over-65s

THL suspended use of the vaccine as a precautionary measure after two cases of brain blood clots were diagnosed.

According to figures provided by THL, the AstraZeneca vaccine has so far been used to vaccinate over 180,000 people in Finland. Image: Adam Warzawa / AOP

Finland will resume administering the AstraZeneca vaccine from next Monday, but only to people over the age of 65, according to a statement released on Wednesday by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

Use of the AstraZeneca vaccine was suspended last Friday after two cases of brain blood clots were diagnosed in two individuals who'd received the jab.

"There is no increased risk of the very rare blood clotting disorders after vaccination in people over 65 years of age, of which the possible association with the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine is currently being investigated. Vaccinations for this age group can therefore be continued as normal," THL's chief physician Taneli Puumalainen wrote in the press release.

The National Vaccine Expert Group (KRAR) said on Tuesday that the continued use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on people over 65 is medically justified.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has also conducted an investigation and said it considers the vaccine to be safe and effective.

"Research into whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the vaccine and these rare cases is still ongoing," head of THL’s vaccine unit Hanna Nohynek told Yle.

"Although the continuation of vaccinations is very important in the current epidemic situation, possible cases of adverse reactions need to be investigated very carefully. If a cause-and-effect relationship is established, we are also looking at ways to further reduce the risk."

The agency had said earlier on Wednesday that the temporary suspension of the vaccine had not significantly affected Finland's vaccination rate.

Use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people under the age of 65 may continue after Easter at the earliest, THL added.