Matt Hancock urged people to “listen to the regulators” and to “get the jab” as soon as they got the opportunity.
Some 13 countries have suspended use of the vaccine while they seek further clarification on its safety.
But the UK’s medicines watchdog, the MHRA, has said that evidence “does not suggest” the jab causes clots.
About 17 million people across the EU and the UK have received a dose of the vaccine, with fewer than 40 cases of blood clots reported as of last week, the manufacturer AstraZeneca said.
It said the number of cases of blood clots reported was lower than the hundreds of cases that would be expected among the general population.In a bid to reassure the British public, Mr Hancock stressed that the MHRA, the World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency all believed the vaccine was safe.
“We keep the effects of these vaccines under review all the time and we know that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is saving lives in the UK right now so if you get the call, get the jab,” he said.
Asked if there had been evidence of people declining the jab after the European suspensions, the health secretary said there were still “huge numbers of people vaccinated every day” and that “enthusiasm for getting the vaccine is incredibly strong”.Downing Street has also defended the safety of the vaccine, with the PM’s official spokesman insisting that Boris Johnson would be happy to take it when it came to his turn.
Meanwhile, the Duchess of Cornwall revealed on Tuesday that she had received the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab earlier this year.
Speaking during a visit to a pop-up vaccination centre in London with the Prince of Wales, Camilla joked that it “didn’t matter” which jab she was given because “I hate injections so much”.It was announced in mid-February that Prince Charles, 72, and the duchess, 73, had received their first Covid jabs. Their ages meant they were included in the fourth priority group for the rollout of the vaccine.
The latest government figures show that 24,839,906 first doses of a Covid vaccine have now been given in the UK, with some 1,663,646 people receiving a second dose.