COVID 19 Astra Zeneca vaccine for over 40s: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

"Why does the general public not have a choice of vaccine they are injected with? What is the medical reason why I must receive Astra Zeneca? If this just comes down to stock supplies, is this not age discrimination that over 40s are being forced into getting Astra Zeneca?"


The answer to your question is all our decision making in responding to Covid-19 is guided by the latest scientific evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), advice from Health Protection Scotland and our Chief Medical Officer. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) provides advice on immunisation to all UK Health Departments, including on the efficacy and safety of vaccines.

As with other vaccinations in the UK, people are not routinely offered a choice on which vaccine they will receive, unless there is a clinical reason why this would be required, such as an allergy. Any vaccine authorised for use in the UK, by the appropriate Medical authorities is safe and effective, and will have a similar effect in terms of protection. The vaccines being offered are based on clinical recommendations, including those of the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The vaccine people receive will also depend on availability and, for a limited number of people, clinical reasons. Based on current advice from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the JCVI, people will normally receive the same vaccine for their first and second dose.

The JCVI recommends that you should receive the same vaccine type for both first and second doses. This is because data has shown an increased chance of side effects occurring if an different vaccine brand is used for the second dose than a person has received for the first.

Upon reviewing the data on extremely rare blood clot relates side effects and the overall context of the UK vaccine program, the Joint committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommends using vaccines other than Astra Zeneca in adults aged under 40. No government in the UK has significantly deviated from JCVI advice in over 25 years.

Following the statements by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) we want to stress that the evidence shows that, overall, the benefits of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks and it continues to be a safe and effective vaccine. If you believe that there is a clinical reason that would make you unsuitable to receive the Astra Zeneca vaccine, you should speak with your care team so they can make an assessment of your personal situation and potentially make a recommendation that you receive an alternative vaccination brand.

More information can be found at NHS inform, and the World Health Organisation.

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