By Daina Beth Solomon
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador received the AstraZeneca shot against COVID-19 on Tuesday, urging trust in vaccines after several countries limited the use of AstraZeneca due to suspected links to rare blood clots.
Lopez Obrador, 67, has said the benefits of getting inoculated outweighed the risks of the low-cost shot, which is a core pillar of Mexico’s vaccination strategy.
Ahead of rolling up his sleeve for the shot at the end of his regular daily news conference, Lopez Obrador said he wanted to encourage all older adults to also get their shots to be protected from the coronavirus.
“We’re sure there is no risk, no danger, that there are no serious side effects,” he said, without specifically naming AstraZeneca.
He added that his government is tracking vaccine studies being carried out worldwide.
Lopez Obrador said he would sit for 20 minutes after receiving the jab, as recommended by a healthcare worker who administered the shot to the president on live television and social media.
“It didn’t hurt,” Lopez Obrador said. “Right now I’m feeling very good.”
Mexico’s health regulator said earlier this month that it did not plan to limit the use of the two-shot vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, but was looking into information from Britain’s vaccine advisory committee.
The committee has said an alternative to AstraZeneca should be given to people under 30 where possible.
Mexico began vaccinations late last year and has so far fully inoculated nearly 4 million people, most of whom are adults over 60, out of a total population of 126 million.
Officials plan to soon roll out vaccinations for adults over 50 and teachers, just as infection rates in 10 states start to trend higher following Easter week celebrations.
Mexico as of February had agreed to buy 77.4 million AstraZeneca doses, making the drugmaker its top vaccine provider. It will also receive AstraZeneca shots through the COVAX vaccine-sharing program, which will supply a total of 51.5 million doses from various manufacturers.
Additionally, Mexico has agreed to bottle AstraZeneca shots using vaccine material produced in Argentina, with an initial supply of 150 million doses to be distributed in Latin America.
A Mexican official said in March that the first doses were expected to be shipped the first week of May.
(Reporting by Daina Beth SolomonEditing by Alistair Bell)