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France recommends reserving AstraZeneca vaccine for over 55s despite EMA advice

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French Prime Minister Jean Castex received the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday after it was given the green light by health authorities.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex received the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday after it was given the green light by health authorities.   -   Copyright  Thomas Coex, Pool via AP
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France's health authority has recommended reserving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for people aged 55 and over, despite advice from Europe's regulators.

The European Medicines Agency reaffirmed that the vaccine was "safe and effective" after several EU countries halted rollout over reports of blood clotting.

The French health authority (HAS) gave the green light for AstraZeneca to resume vaccination "without delay" on Friday but has still urged caution.

The authority noted the "serious" but "very rare" cases of blood clotting in vaccinated people under the age of 55, adding that there have been three instances in France.

These pathologies have "nothing to do" with usual thrombosis said HAS president, Professor Dominique Le Guludec.

The three cases had been recorded out of 1.4 million AstraZeneca vaccines that have been administered, the authority said.

HAS recommended that those aged under 55 should be inoculated with other vaccines pending "additional data".

The AstraZeneca jab was first approved for use in the EU on 29 January.

France initially recommended against administering the vaccine to people aged over 65 due until further studies, but later widened their use on March 1 to people aged 65-74 with "co-morbidities".

Alongside Germany, Italy, Spain, and other European countries, France then temporarily suspended the vaccine on March 15 as a precaution.

But on Friday, France's Prime Minister Jean Castex, 55, was filmed receiving the jab himself at a military hospital in Saint Mandé, near Paris.