The Public Health Agency of Sweden
Updated 13 May 2021

Information on the use of the Astra Zeneca vaccine in the vaccination of people 65 and older

The Public Health Agency of Sweden is recommending that Astra Zeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine should be used in Sweden to protect people aged 65 and over from the disease known as COVID-19.

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has decided that Astra Zeneca’s vaccine Vaxzevria against COVID-19 can be used in Sweden to protect people aged 65 and over (people born in 1956 and earlier) from COVID-19.

People who are 64 years and younger (born in 1957) should not be vaccinated with Vaxzevria. This recommendation applies until further notice.

Since mid-March, the use of the Astra Zeneca vaccine has been suspended pending an investigation into a few reported cases of blood clots in combination with bleeding. This suspected and rare side effect has primarily been reported in younger people.

The decision to resume the use of the vaccine is based on the opinion of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and consultations with experts in both Sweden and other countries.

In Europe, 20 million doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine have been administered. The vaccine provides very good protection against severe COVID-19. Assessment of the vaccine has determined that it reduces the risk of infection and helps reduce the spread of COVID-19 in society.

Every vaccination is a step towards being able to return to a life without the restrictions that are in place right now.

Vaccination protects against disease

There is a very serious risk that people infected with COVID-19 can develop severe illness. This risk is especially great for older people (aged 65 years and older).

Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent infection and protect against diseases. Yet just like any other medicine, vaccines can cause side effects.

Mild side effects are normal

After a vaccination, it is normal to have mild side effects. You might experience some tenderness, swelling or redness at the injection site, or your upper arm might become itchy. Some people might feel generally unwell or develop a short-term fever and/or headaches. This is to be expected and is a sign that the immune system is responding. These symptoms are usually mild and will pass after a few days.

If new side effects become known, the product information of the vaccine will be updated. The Public Health Agency’s recommendations on how to use the vaccine may also be updated.

Investigation of very rare side effects

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has concluded that there is a possible link between the Astra Zeneca vaccine Vaxzevria and very rare cases of unusual blood clots in combination with low levels of platelets and sometimes bleeding, mostly in younger people. The symptoms also occur in unvaccinated people, but are very rare.

The symptoms usually appear in one or more places in the body within three weeks after the vaccination. It is important to pay attention to the following symptoms: several, new and larger bruises and/or several point-shaped bleedings on the skin or in the mouth, prolonged nasal bleeding that is difficult to stop, swelling, redness or tenderness of your arms or legs (not around the injection site), severe headache, blurred vision, severe abdominal pain, sudden shortness of breath and/or chest pain.

The EMA, as well as the Swedish Medical Products Agency and the Public Health Agency, assess that the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh the risk of side effects. The vaccine is effective in preventing COVID-19 and reducing severe illness and death. The EMA continues to monitor reports of similar cases, and new safety assessments are carried out continuously. The Public Health Agency continuously assesses how the new knowledge can affect the recommendation for use in Sweden.

Contact health care services if you feel unwell after vaccination

If you feel unwell or are worried after your vaccination, you should always contact health care services so that your symptoms can be investigated, regardless of whether they can be linked to the vaccination or not. Tell them that you have been vaccinated recently. You can also contact 1177 Vårdguiden. Call 112 in case of acute illness.

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Questions and answers about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination