Germany, Italy, France to halt AstraZeneca shots

Germany, France and Italy said Monday (March 15) that they will be pausing their rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine, after several countries reported possible serious side-effects, throwing Europe's already struggling vaccination campaign into disarray.

Denmark and Norway stopped giving the shot last week after reporting isolated cases of bleeding, blood clots and a low platelet count.

Iceland and Bulgaria quickly followed suit along with Ireland and the Netherlands, which announced suspensions on Sunday.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that the country will wait until guidance is issued from the European Union's medicine regulator, which is due Tuesday.

"The decision which has been taken out of precaution, in conformity with our European policy, is to suspend, by precaution, vaccinating with the AstraZeneca vaccine in the hope that we can resume quickly if the EMA gives the green light."

The United Kingdom said it had no concerns over the vaccine, while Poland said it thought the benefits outweighed any risks.

The World Health Organization has appealed to countries not to suspend vaccinations, saying that there is no evidence that the incidents have been caused by the vaccine itself.

Meanwhile, the EMA says that among 5 million people to have received the vaccine in 30 European countries, only 30 cases of blood clots had been reported as of March 10.

The number, the EMA says, is the same as would be found in the general population anyway.