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Vaccine benefits increase with age and infection rates, EMA says

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A health worker administers a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to a man in his 80s at a vaccine center in Rome's Auditorium, Monday, Feb. 15, 2021.
A health worker administers a dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to a man in his 80s at a vaccine center in Rome's Auditorium, Monday, Feb. 15, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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The benefits of COVID vaccination increase with age and with levels of infection in communities, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Friday.

Speaking during a press conference, Noël Wathion, the EMA’s Deputy Executive Director, said "the older you get, the more benefits you will see" by getting the jab.

He further said that "in a situation of higher infection rates," the benefits of receiving the jab also only increase.

With older ages and those in areas of high infection rates at more risk, getting vaccinated is crucial, Wathion said.

His comments came as the EMA advised that those who have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca jab get the second one too, despite possible risk of rare blood clots linked to the vaccine.

Earlier this month, the EMA had said that there was a "possible link" between the AstraZeneca vaccine and cases of rare blood clots. However, it said the benefits of getting the shot outweighs the risks.

The agency also this week identified a similar possible link between blood clots and the COVID-19 jab developed by Johnson & Johnson.

For both products, the EMA recommended instituting label changes, but said that still the benefits of receiving both jabs outweigh the risks.

On Friday, EMA officials said it was important to investigate whether cases of blood clots could be connected to the technology used to create the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson jabs.

With both vaccines relying on the same technology, they said it was an avenue that should be explored.

Overall, Wathion said it was important to remember that the EMA has had to "develop within an extremely short time frame, an ideology" around COVID vaccination.

Last month, more than a dozen countries, mainly in Europe, suspended their use of the AstraZeneca jab over concerns around the blood clotting issue.

Most countries restarted their programmes, however, but some implemented age restrictions in response to the limited data available on the rare blood clot cases.