The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday adopted the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to temporarily suspend the use of AstraZeneca vaccines for individuals aged below 60 years old, following recent reports of rare cases of blood clots with low platelets detected in some individuals inoculated with the vaccine.

“We are aware of the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to list blood clots as very rare side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine. While we have not seen such incidents in the country, the FDA has recommended to temporarily suspend the use of the vaccine for persons below 60 years old as we await results of the review being done by our local experts, as well as the official guidance of the WHO,” FDA Director General Rolando Enrique Domingo said.

The DOH and FDA assured the public that experts are carefully reviewing information pertinent to this new development in order to craft appropriate recommendations on the vaccine’s use. To date, the National Adverse Events Following Immunization Committee (NAEFIC) has not received any local reports of such side effects. Nonetheless, the DOH and FDA are carefully monitoring the rollout of vaccines to identify and appropriately manage any possible adverse events.

“I want to emphasize that this temporary suspension DOES NOT MEAN that the vaccine is unsafe or ineffective—it just means that we are taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of every Filipino. We continue to underscore that the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh the risks and we urge everyone to get vaccinated when it’s their turn,” FDA Director General Domingo added.

Despite this development, the NTF and the DOH reiterated that vaccination is SAFE and FREE, and urged senior citizens and persons with comorbidities to receive the available vaccines from their LGUS to acquire the added protection it provides.