On Friday evening, Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced some changes to the vaccination campaign: people under the age of 60 will have the opportunity to receive the second dose with the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, rejecting the so-called heterologous vaccination, and from the words of the president it seems that even people over 60 years of age will be able to choose to receive a second dose with a different vaccine than the one administered with the first dose, although there are still not many certainties about this second possibility. Draghi explained that these changes have been introduced “to clear up what appears to be some confusion on the issue of vaccines.”
On Friday 11 June, the Technical Scientific Committee (CTS) had recommended the administration of the first doses of AstraZeneca exclusively to people over 60 years of age, while the administration of other vaccines was planned for the lower age groups. People under 60 who had received the first dose of AstraZeneca were recommended to be given vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna, using ‘heterologous vaccination’, ie with two different vaccines.
– Read also: Immunization with two different vaccines explained
The CTS decision came after reports of some rare cases of suspected serious side effects in young people who had received the first dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which had renewed the debate and media attention on the drug’s safety. In the following days the confirmation of these recommendations had arrived with a new ordinance of the Ministry of Health and the approval of the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA).
Before explaining the changes, Draghi implicitly referred to the slowdown that the vaccination campaign has suffered in recent days: in the vaccination points of many regions fewer people showed up than booked and many refused the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine. But the uncertainty also involved people under the age of 60 who had received AstraZeneca and would have liked to have received the second dose with the same vaccine, without resorting to heterologous vaccination. Draghi explained that “the worst thing you can do is not get vaccinated or get vaccinated with a single dose.”
Draghi said that he himself will do the heterologous vaccination, of which he wanted to emphasize the effectiveness. “The heterologous works: I myself am booked on Tuesday to be the heterologous,” said Draghi. “The first dose of AstraZeneca I did gave a low antibody response and therefore I am advised to be heterologous. It works for me and it also works for those under 70 and 60 ».
Until now, this choice for people over 60 was not foreseen and it is not yet clear how it will be managed, in particular if a serological test will have to be done to demonstrate the low antibody response, as in the case of the Prime Minister. At the moment this change announced by Draghi contradicts the latest indications of the ministry: in the coming days new provisions are expected that will precisely define the possibility of choosing the vaccine for people over 60 years old.
– Read also: In Naples there is a lack of people to vaccinate
The second change concerns the possibility of also receiving the second dose of AstraZeneca for people under 60. “If a person under the age of 60 has taken the first dose of AstraZeneca, and is offered to be a heterologous person, but this person does not want to, they are free to take the second dose with AstraZeneca as long as they have a doctor’s opinion and informed consent, well informed ”, explained Draghi. This possibility had been requested in particular by Lazio, which in recent days had requested a clarification from the government.
Contrary to the possibility of choice for people over 60, this second change has been included in a new circular from the Ministry of Health. “If a subject under the age of 60, after receiving the first dose of Vaxzevria vaccine (AstraZeneca, ed), despite documented and accurate information provided by the vaccinator or by the operators of the vaccination center on the risks of Vitt (thrombosis venous, ed), refuses without the possibility of convincing the crossing to the mRna vaccine, the same, after acquiring adequate informed consent, can be administered the second dose of Vaxzevria “, reads the circular signed by the director general for Prevention of the ministry, Giovanni Rezza. “This option is coherent and balanced by the benefit deriving from the cancellation of the risk associated with the partial protection conferred by the administration of a single dose of Vaxzevria”.