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An Excellent Article About Vaccination

Sep 09 2021
12:00 PM

A lot of Australians are still worried about the AstraZeneca vaccine but experts say there is no reason for the vast majority not to get it.

Robert Booy from the University of Sydney and Royal Australian College of GPs president Karen Price take the time to answer some common questions.

What conditions mean I shouldn't get vaccinated with AstraZeneca?

If you're over 60 years of age, AstraZeneca is the only vaccine available to you unless you fall in a priority group for Pfizer or have a history of a specific rare medical condition. 

Dr Price says those conditions include:

  • Central venous sinus thrombosis 
  • Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia with thrombosis, where heparin is the medication
  • Capillary leak syndrome
  • Antiphospholipid syndrome
  • Idiopathic splanchnic vein thrombosis 
  • Polysorbate 80 anaphylaxis
  • Previous thrombocytopenia syndrome after a dose of the vaccine

Dr Price said those who have had other types of clotting or underlying health conditions were not at greater risk of developing the rare blood clot.

Your questions about the AstraZeneca vaccine answered

What about the risk of anaphylaxis?

Dr Booy said the risk of anaphylaxis from vaccines was rare and similar across all vaccines.

He said the risk was about one in 100,000.

But he said there was a quick recovery with appropriate treatment and those affected could have another vaccine for their second dose.

And those with egg allergies can rest assured that COVID-19 vaccines do not contain traces of egg.

What if I don't have any of these conditions?

You're likely to be able to get AstraZeneca.

What if I'm on blood thinners?

Dr Booy said you can get AstraZeneca if you're on blood-thinning medication.

A history of heart attack or stroke?

Dr Booy said those who have a history of heart attack, stroke, or low platelets can safely get the AstraZeneca vaccine.

What if I've had deep vein thrombosis?

Even deep vein thrombosis "does not rule us out for AstraZeneca", Dr Booy said.

Guillain-Barre syndrome?

Dr Booy said the rare syndrome, while occasionally seen after the flu vaccine, had not been associated with AstraZeneca.

Does the AstraZeneca vaccine affect women's fertility?

"Absolutely not," Dr Booy said.

What are the side effects of getting vaccinated?

Sore arm, fever, and headache are common side effects for all vaccines, according to Dr Booy.

He said AstraZeneca was more likely to cause these symptoms after the first dose, while Pfizer was more likely to after the second dose.

I'm still worried about blood clots. How will I be protected?

For Australians older than 50, the incidence of thrombosis thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) following AstraZeneca is about one in 50,000.

There is less than a one-in-a-million chance of dying as a result of vaccination.

Australia also had one of the best systems for identifying and treating this very rare side effect, according to Dr Booy.

"GPs or emergency physicians look for symptoms of severe pain in the legs, abdomen, chest, or head," he said.

But he said getting COVID gives you a 5-10 times higher risk of getting a clot in your brain, myocarditis — inflammation of the heart muscle — or a severe clot somewhere else in your body.

I want to wait for Pfizer. Why shouldn't I?

Dr Booy and Dr Price said AstraZeneca and Pfizer were safe and effective vaccines.

Given AstraZeneca is in greater supply, Dr Price said waiting around for Pfizer posed more of a risk.

And now that the gap between second AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses had been equalled to six weeks, there was no "faster" option.

 

"We've always said the best vaccine is the one in your arm.

"If you have questions, go to your doctor and talk them through."