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Belgian Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke in Brussels, Belgium, February 26. Isopix / Shutterstock

Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke has sought to reassure the country about the AstraZeneca vaccine, following a decision to temporarily suspend its administration to people aged 18 to 55.

“There’s no question it’s a good vaccine. It protects against disease, ”he said. But he warned it had side effects, “like any vaccine.”

Belgium’s decision to suspend the use of AstraZeneca came after the discovery by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that there was a “possible link” between the AstraZeneca vaccine and “very rare cases of blood clots But that the benefits of the vaccine continue to weigh the risks.

“There is no doubt that if you have the choice between vaccination with AstraZeneca or no vaccination, you should get vaccinated immediately with AstraZeneca,” Vandenbroucke said in an interview on VRT Radio 1 on Wednesday.

Following the advice of the Higher Health Council of Belgium, Vandenbroucke declared that the country would now “use AstraZeneca for slightly older people and use the other vaccines earlier for the younger ones”.

He added that this was only possible “because we have the luxury of choosing from a variety of vaccines and can spread the risk without affecting our vaccination strategy.”

On the data presented by the EMA at a virtual meeting of European health ministers, Vandenbroucke said: “We found that the EMA still has some homework,” adding that he was not the only minister to have raised this concern.

“We are not so happy that the EMA did not take the analysis a step further to find out what is the best choice between different vaccines for different age groups

Last month, Belgium decided to continue its vaccination campaign for all people over the age of 18 with the AstraZeneca vaccine, while other European countries suspended use of the vaccine due to blood clotting problems in awaiting an investigation from the EMA.

When asked why Belgium had continued when others had not, Vandenbroucke said: “If we had decided then to stop using the vaccine, we should have shaken the campaign up. have cost lives.

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