If it is not Dr Google that increases the level of anxiety, it is the excessive amount of media coverage of various health topics that leaves people confused and overwhelmed. If you feel you are constantly having a crash course in different health conditions, you are not alone.

The big headlines this week have been, yet again, around the vaccine; in this case the Oxford AstraZeneca jab and its links with causing blood clots. As soon as the news broke of its suspension in various European countries, I started receiving calls from friends, relatives and the next day patients, all panicking because they had either received this vaccine or were booked to get it soon.

This is not the first time that reactive and ill-informed decisions have been made by leading European officials, which has caused fear on a large scale, only to be u-turned a few days later - why not study the evidence first? It worries me too when I hear this because it is us who are administering these vaccines in the first place. We are constantly reviewing and studying the data and at the crux of it all is patient safety. Our vaccines have undergone rigorous testing, multi-level trials before being approved. This is no small undertaking with a lot at stake.

However, some EU leaders in recent months appear to have been acting in quite a reactive manner rather than on an evidence-based strategy. It makes me question why? In each of the instances, the vaccination programme has been hindered, delaying protection to the elderly in Europe, increasing the hesitancy around the vaccine and generating public mistrust.

This week, many patients have been concerned about their likelihoods of developing a blood clot because of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Venous thromboembolism or VTE, is a condition in which blood clots form. These clots can form anywhere in the body but most commonly develop in the deep veins of the leg causing a DVT (deep venous thrombosis). This causes a painful, hot, swollen lower leg. Smaller clots can break off and travel in the blood circulation to the lungs (pulmonary embolism) causing severe breathlessness, fast heart rate, chest pain and you may even collapse. Both conditions are very serious and life threatening if not treated promptly. Clots can also travel to the brain and this was one of the concerns with the Astrazeneca vaccine.

Sadly blood clots are fairly common and there are several risk factors for developing these including hospitalisation, surgery, trauma, immobility, cancer, pregnancy and after birth, family history of clots, hormone replacement therapy, obesity, smoking and even dehydration.

From the data we have discovered that out of the 17 million people who have received a dose of the vaccine to date, 37 people developed blood clots; this number is in actual fact less than the average we would normally expect if we were not in a vaccinating programme.

It therefore came as a real surprise and worry that on this basis, the vaccine was being paused and therefore people’s lives were being put at risk again in these EU countries.

Throughout this whole week, our scientific experts, drug regulators – the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency – and the World Health Organisation have repeatedly confirmed there to be no link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots and, after the furore caused, the European Medicine’s Agency has now accepted that the vaccine is safe and effective and that it should be re-started in the respective countries.

The thing that concerns me the most is that the sensationalistic and reactive noise around the vaccines continues to stir mistrust and feeds into the anti-vax, conspiracy and fake news narratives. We are in a global pandemic where we are so close to getting some normality back, we need all the efforts now to be placed into trusting the experts. We need to follow the data and respect those who interpret and study it for a living.

The one positive from this week’s headlines has been raising awareness about blood clotting conditions which can only be a good thing. However, the big take home message is that if you are invited for the vaccine – whichever one it is – they are safe and effective so please attend for both doses.