Should people aged 65+ take the AstraZenaca Vaccine?

Aoife Breslin

Germany is not advising the Oxford-AstraZenaca vaccine to over 65-year-olds as there is not enough data to prove that is it safe for the age group to take.

Only 341 people aged over 65 took part in the AstraZenaca Vaccine trial, with 319 of these people given a placebo vaccine. Therefore, it is difficult to determine the suitability of the vaccine for people aged 65 and above.

Ireland is set to receive 190,000 doses of AstraZenaca this February. With over 65’s being one of the first to be administered the vaccine, we may question with the lack of tests done on the age group, should 65-year-olds and above be receiving AstraZenaca?

With the effectiveness of this vaccine being unknown for 65 and overs, it may cause concern for the nation, as we have no evidence that the AstraZenaca vaccine will work on this age group.

Currently Ireland is to receive 285,000 doses of the vaccine by the end of March, Irish people may worry if over 65’s are administered this specific vaccine will it be effective or will it be a waste?

With very little data gathered to support the effectiveness of the vaccine on the age group, it may be a risk that the country in not willing to take with only a limited supply of the vaccine currently available.

The European Union’s regulator clarified that the AstraZenaca vaccine is suitable for older people, however, this was not supported by any scientific evidence.

The percentage of 65 and over’s that trailed the vaccine is far below the number needed to draw firm conclusions to whether the vaccine will be effective for that age group.

Currently under 45-year-olds are the highest percentage in Ireland to have contracted Covid-19, therefore, this is the age group that is most likely to spread the virus.

With cases being 1000+ daily last month, it is clear that we are not in a position to take the risk of administering the AstraZenaca vaccine to older people when we cannot be certain if it will be effective for them or not.

However, even with the unknown of the AstraZenaca vaccine, Ireland will still be supplied with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which have been successfully trailed on 65 and overs.

Both these vaccines show efficacy of 95% at preventing symptomatic Covid-19 infection, starting seven days after the second dose is administered.

The AstraZenaca vaccine makers have since recruited older people into their ongoing phase 3 trials to ensure efficiency of the vaccine on older people. Until this is completed, and they are aware of the vaccines effect on the age group, Ireland should not administer this particular vaccine to 65 and overs.

With Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna currently being distributed in Ireland, the AstraZenaca vaccine is expected to be rolled out in Ireland by February 8th. As of now 65 and overs are to be administered the Oxford vaccine, with little to no evidence that it will be effective.

Aoife Breslin

Image Credit: Maria Yager