Germany will still recommend AstraZeneca vaccine for over-60s only

Germany will still recommend AstraZeneca vaccine for over-60s only

Despite the European Medicines Agency’s conclusion that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 outweigh the risks, Germany will continue to exercise caution and only recommend it for patients over the age of 60. 

AstraZeneca only for over-60s, STIKO concludes

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced on Wednesday that the AstraZeneca vaccine should continue to be used without restrictions - despite the fact that the regulator can’t rule out blood clotting as a possible, “very rare” side effect of the vaccine. 

Nonetheless, Germany’s Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO), is sticking to its recommendation that the vaccine only be used for people over the age of 60. The Commission has further updated its recommendations to state that people under the age of 60 who have already received one dose of AstraZeneca should switch to a different vaccine for their second dose. 

“Many believe that the two vaccines will then work against each other in the body,” said STIKO boss Thomas Mertens. “But that is not the case.” He explained that the active ingredient in the vaccine disappears quickly from the body: “What remains is the immune response.” 

Some, including the virologist Hendrik Streeck, have expressed surprise at this decision to mix-and-match vaccines. “The clinical studies have not yet run,” he said to the Fuldaer Zeitung on Thursday. “I think it is necessary to stick to the rules and wait to see whether the studies are successful.” However, he added that the decision not to inoculate young people with AstraZeneca was “understandable."

Germany considering delaying second vaccine doses

STIKO is also considering a proposal to delay the interval between first and second vaccine doses in Germany. This approach has been recommended by SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach, among others, as a way of making sure that more people get their first vaccination - and therefore at least a base level of protection - more quickly. 

“STIKO and the RKI are working intensively on this question and want to come to a scientifically justifiable statement,” said Mertens. 

As of March 30, the Paul Ehrlich Institute had recorded 31 cases of sinus vein thrombosis (CSVT) - a rare form of blood clotting in the brain. In 19 cases there was also a low blood platelet count. Nine people have died. With the exception of two cases, all reports affect women between the ages of 20 and 63. 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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