Why is the vaccine OK for people over 50?

Dear blogsters, thanks for your efforts, you really are our “go-to” source on covid issues. Here’s one for you. Given that overall blood clotting incidence increases with increasing age, what is it about the AZ vaccine that causes younger people to be more vulnerable than older (over 50) folks? Seems counter intuitive. Thanks FNQC

-FNQ Confused

The rare new illness that has caused this scare has been given a name by Australia’s vaccines advisory group: Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome, or TTS.

It describes when someone develops a blood clot with the number of platelets in their blood dropping.

The advice to government notes the condition has been seen in a small number of people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe, and one person in Australia is also suspected to have developed TTS after getting the shot.

Studies have suggested TTS affects four to six people per million vaccinations, or somewhere in the realm of one in every 200,000 people.

So why is the vaccine OK for people over 50? That’s because the risks of TTS — and COVID-19 — differ depending on your age.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly explained it appeared that because the rare syndrome was likely an immune response, it had a greater chance of affecting young people with “robust” immune systems.

And, as we know, your risk of death or hospitalisation from COVID-19 increases the older you are.

“This is based both on the increased risk of complications from COVID-19 with increasing age, and thus increased benefit of the vaccination, and the potentially lower — but not zero — risk of this rare event with increasing age,” Professor Kelly said.

In a nutshell, the government believes the AstraZeneca vaccine contains fewer risks and greater benefits for older people, and therefore is worth the very small risk associated with the vaccine for people over 50.

You can read more here.