Belgium’s vaccination centres have seen a recent increase in the number of appointments being cancelled because of concerns over the suspension by Denmark of the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Flemish agency for health AZG has confirmed an increase in cancellations, but was unable to provide figures.
The problem concerns a Danish study which reported cases of blood clots appearing in people who had been inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Danish government has since suspended the use of the vaccine for two weeks until more information is available.
However some people in Belgium appear to have made the decision for themselves, and cancelled their appointment to be vaccinated for fear it would be using the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“We heard from a number of contacts with some vaccination centres yesterday that they noticed that a number of people had doubts and a number of people also cancelled,” said Joris Moonens, spokesperson for the agency, speaking on VRT radio on Friday.
“Not unexpected, I think, given the surprising message from Denmark, which contained very little information for a number of hours.”
In Belgium, confidence in the vaccine is as before, he said. Belgium decided yesterday to carry on administering the vaccine, on the advice of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
“Not being vaccinated puts you in a much more unsafe position than delaying the vaccine,” Moonens said.
The Danish suspension is aimed at finding out if here is a causal link between the appearance of blood clots and the vaccine itself, and examining the possibility that the two events are coincidental. Since the decision to suspend was taken, Norway and Iceland have followed suit.
Belgium’s federal agency for medicines and health products reports that the EMA is investigating the matter, but points out that the number of cases of blood clots in the Danish study was no larger that would be found among any sample of the population, regardless of vaccines.
“By March 10, 30 cases have been reported in five million people vaccinated with AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine in the European Economic Area,” the agency said.
And epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme of the university of Antwerp, also speaking to the VRT, put the figure in context.
“If there was a real connection, that figure would not be 30, but would be much higher,” he said.