People advised not to worry about side effects of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

May 09, 2024 - 08:23
The majority of patients had the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination several years ago, the vaccine is no longer effective and there is no reason to be concerned about side effects, said Lương Ngọc Khuê, general director of the Department of Medical Service Administration under the Ministry of Health.
COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by AstraZeneca. AFP/VNA Photo

HÀ NỘI — Lương Ngọc Khuê, general director of the Department of Medical Service Administration under the Ministry of Health, has said that people should not be worried about the side effects of COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca in response to concerns it may cause blood clots.

AstraZeneca recently admitted that its vaccine can, in very rare cases, cause thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) which is known to cause blood clots and low blood platelet counts.

"People had been notified about the potential side effects when we conducted the COVID-19 immunisation programme," Khuê told Sức Khoẻ&Đời Sống (Health and Life) newspaper.

“The Ministry of Health has developed a strict vaccination process. The individual getting the shot needs to have their blood pressure checked, be examined prior to the shot, and have their health monitored following the shot after vaccination at the hospital or vaccination venue.”

The majority of patients had the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination several years ago, but the vaccine is no longer effective and there is no reason to be concerned about side effects, he said.

Many people want to take the D-Dimer test to see if they have a blood clotting issue because they are overly concerned.

Dr Đoàn Dư Mạnh, a member of the Vietnam Vascular Disease Association, said D-Dimer testing should not be performed due to its high cost and inappropriate use.

Although AstraZeneca has said that certain uncommon side effects are possible with their vaccine, these are 'extremely rare' and only manifest a short while after injection. In the meantime, he said, our last injection was almost two years ago.

According to experts, thrombosis issues, if present, often arise 28 days following injection.

"Vaccination side effects don't last that long," Dr. Mạnh told Voice of Vietnam (VOV), cautioning that the misuse of pointless testing will cause public confusion.

The D-Dimer test is indicated for people with symptoms of blood clotting disorders, such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include leg pain or swelling, redness, or red streaks on the leg. Symptoms of pulmonary embolism are shortness of breath, cough, chest tightness and irregular heartbeat, he said.

The D-Dimer test is usually performed in an emergency room or other healthcare facility. Although it is common, patients should only have this test performed when a cardiologist recommends it, he said.

Associate Professor Đỗ Văn Dũng, head of the Department of Public Health, HCM City University of Medicine and Pharmacy, said at this moment, there is no need to perform tests to check for blood clots or monitor platelet count.

Only a small percentage of recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccination during a one to two-month period experience blood clotting. People who have received the COVID-19 vaccination from AstraZeneca would no longer experience blood clots after repeated injections, he said.

Currently, he feels that screening for other more prevalent diseases and routine health check-ups should be carried out instead of testing to detect blood clots, with an emphasis on treating underlying illnesses and enhancing quality of life.

"The AstraZeneca vaccine's efficacy is undeniable. The pandemic has been contained and the number of deaths has decreased thanks to vaccination," he said, adding that AstraZeneca is still one of quality vaccines at the time the pandemic was at its worst. In the event that the pandemic recurs, this vaccine remains a wise option.

Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of thrombocytopenia and thrombosis syndrome following COVID-19 vaccination were released by the Vietnamese Ministry of Health in April 2021. The ministry states that four to 28 days following injection, clinical signs of thrombocytopenia syndrome and thrombosis typically show.

When these symptoms manifest, testing for basic blood coagulation and platelet count, D-Dimer (if present), ultrasound/Doppler pulse, X-ray, CT (if present), and other investigations to identify the reason are required, along with professional assistance.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the 30 million doses of vaccine ordered from AstraZeneca, Việt Nam also sporadically received the AstraZeneca vaccine through donor programmes.

These vaccines have contributed to the success of the country’s COVID-19 vaccination in 2022. Hundreds of millions of people were vaccinated with two to four doses of vaccines including those from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna.

In the latest move, AstraZeneca said on Tuesday it had initiated the worldwide withdrawal of its COVID-19 vaccine due to a "surplus of available updated vaccines" since the pandemic.

"As multiple, variant COVID-19 vaccines have since been developed there is a surplus of available updated vaccines," AstraZeneca said.— VNS