Netherlands limits use of AstraZeneca vaccine to people over 60

Boxes of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine are seen at a vaccination center, amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, in Ronquieres, Belgium April 6, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government will limit use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to people above age 60 following rare cases of blood clots, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said on Thursday.

The decision came a day after Europe’s medicines regulator said it found rare cases of blood clots among some adult recipients of the shot, although the vaccine’s advantages still outweighed its risks.

“People over the age of 60, born in 1960 or earlier, can safely continue to receive an injection of AstraZeneca. People under the age of 60 will receive a different vaccine,” the government said in statement.

The Netherlands, which has ordered 12 million AstraZeneca doses, is among several countries to restrict the vaccine’s use in recent days following concerns about side effects.

But de Jonge stressed the greater risks for older adults from COVID-19.

“The risk of health damage as a result of COVID-19 in people over 60 is many times greater than the risk of the very rare reported side effect of severe thrombosis with a low platelet count,” he said.

The vaccine, which AstraZeneca developed with Oxford University and considered a frontrunner in the global vaccine, has been plagued by safety concerns and supply problems.

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler