Slovenia to get 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine fewer than planned

Ljubljana – A new shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Slovenia on Thursday, containing 14,400 shots, the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) told the STA. However, in the next couple of weeks, 100,000 doses fewer than planned will be supplied, the NIJZ added.

Initially, more than 153,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were expected this month but the NIJZ said today that together with the shots already supplied, the country would have received 45,860 doses this month, which means that fewer than 10,000 shots are expected in the next couple of weeks.

Several EU countries have meanwhile temporarily suspended vaccination with AstraZeneca as a precaution after reports of problems with blood clots following vaccination.

Asked whether Slovenia may also temporary stop using the vaccine, the NIJZ told the STA today that a vaccination task force must first decide on this and then report to the health minister.

NIJZ head Milan Krek told the press earlier in the day that a special commission comprised of experts was checking reports of any possible complications at the national level and reported of its findings to the European Medicines Agency.

When the Austrian commission reviews the reports of complications, it will be clear whether they were related to the vaccination. “Until then this is merely an assumption,” he said.

The SVIZ trade union of teachers meanwhile insists that given worrying news from certain countries there should be an official statement on AstraZeneca safety. The vaccine is intended to be used for vaccination among school staff, which started this week, in line with the national inoculation strategy.

The trade union said it had received many inquiries by concerned members after media reported on health complications allegedly caused by AstraZeneca.

SVIZ hence called on the NIJZ to take a stand on the matter immediately. If there are any doubts regarding the vaccine’s safety, SVIZ proposes a rethink on potential suspension of vaccination with AstraZeneca among school workers.

After Denmark, Norway and Iceland suspended the rollout of the vaccine due to safety concerns, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said today that risk of blood clots in vaccinated people was no higher than in the general population.

Slovenia is currently not considering halting the use of the vaccine, but the country will continue to monitor the situation closely, Bojana Beović, the head of the vaccination advisory group, told the STA.

According to her, complications are arising in countries that received the same vaccine series as Austria, the country where first allegations of serious side-effects were reported. Slovenia is not in this group, she said, noting the number of cases of complications was extremely low given the total of vaccinations conducted with AstraZeneca so far.

Mateja Logar, who recently replaced Beović as the government’s chief Covid-19 adviser, agreed with her, telling public broadcaster RTV Slovenija that there were no reservations in Slovenia so far regarding the use of the vaccine. Both Logar and Beović also pointed to the EMA’s latest statement.

In Slovenia, all complications processed by the relevant commission so far have turned out not to be related to Covid-19 vaccination.