A vial of AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is seen at a vaccination centre in Seixal, Portugal, March 22, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

LISBON – Portugal’s Director-General of Health Graca Freitas announced Thursday that the country will use the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 only to people over 60 years of age “until further information is available.”

Speaking at a press conference, she said that the decision is only a precautionary measure.

Freitas clarified that those below this age group will be inoculated with products from other authorized manufacturers, reaffirming that “all people will be vaccinated safely, according to the priority groups, minimizing any associated risks.”

She asked those who were vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine to “stay calm” and “watch out for symptoms, including persistent headaches, bruises, red spots on the skin and symptoms similar to a stroke,” and call the doctor just in case.

Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, coordinator of the national task force for vaccination against COVID-19, said that the new recommendation on AstraZeneca vaccine will have a “small impact,” postponing the vaccination of teachers by “only one week.”

He noted that in Portugal, “around 400,000 vaccine doses from AstraZeneca” have already been administered, and the total vaccinations “reached two million doses.”

The safety committee (PRAC) of the European Medicines Agency concluded on Wednesday that “unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of Vaxzevria (formerly COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca),” although it confirmed that “overall benefit-risk remains positive.”

Some countries have restricted the vaccine to certain groups.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in an increasing number of countries with already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 269 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 85 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on April 2.