COVID Vaccine Adverse Events: Should You Be Worried?
What are the possible adverse events after vaccination?
As of Monday, January 18, 580 Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) and seven hospitalisations were reported in the country since the launch of the coronavirus vaccine drive. This translates to just 0.15% of the total 381,305 inoculated.
At the same time, there is news of the death of a ward boy at the District Hospital in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, who was vaccinated on 16 January and his health deteriorated on the evening of 17 January.
The Chief Medical Officer of the district has said that the death is not related to the vaccine. The post-mortem attributed the cause of death to cardiogenic shock / septicemic shock due to cardio-pulmonary disease.
So what do we know about adverse events in case of vaccines? And are these numbers within the range of expected reactions?
What is an Adverse Event Following Immunisation (AEFI)?
Adverse Event Followed Immunisation (AEFI) is defined as "any adverse medical event that may be seen after vaccination and not necessarily because of direct vaccine use. Any adverse signs, symptoms or illness may occur."
Adverse reaction to a vaccine is broadly divided based on the cause (related to product and quality), severity, and frequency.
Categories on the basis of severity and frequency are:
Common minor reaction
Serious and Severe Vaccine Reaction
According to the World Health Organisation, an event is termed serious when:
In case of death
Risk to life
Need to be hospitalised
An intervention to prevent permanent damage
What Are the Possible Adverse Events After Vaccination?
Dr Chhavi Gupta, the media spokesperson of Delhi's Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital, states, "Pain, fever, body ache at the injection site - these are the effects that can be seen immediately and some effects can be seen later. "
“It will be serious, if there is high fever, severe allergies, chest pain, nervousness, low or high BP, low or high pulse rate.”Dr Chhavi Gupta, Media Spokesperson, Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital, Delhi
Virologist Dr Shahid Jameel explains in this video that every vaccine can have some side effects. Some of these can be extremely minor, such as redness or swelling at the injection site or low-grade fever for half a day.
“Actually, redness or swelling or low grade fever at the site of injection is not called an adversarial event, it is called reactogenicity, which indicates that the vaccine has started working in our body.”Dr Shahid Jameel
Discussing the side effects and allergies after a vaccine, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria told IANS that we do not need to be afraid of minor side effects, if you take any medicine, some allergic reaction may occur. And this reaction can also be from common medicines like Crocin and Paracetamol.
580 Adverse Events Were Reported in Three Days, Is This Normal?
Dr Chhavi Gupta describes these adverse events as normal and well within the range.
A total of 580 people reported adverse effects after receiving COVID-19 vaccination, with the majority complaining of fever, headache, and nausea. Out of these, seven required hospitalization.
Can Someone Die Because of a Vaccine?
29 people are reported dead after being given the Pfizer's Coronavirus vaccine in Norway, where all reported deaths have been in “elderly people with severe disease". Some incidents have been reported in UK and USA as well.
Amidst the many apprehensions that people have about the corona vaccination, AIIMS director Randeep Guleria has assured people that no person will die from the vaccine itself.
The vaccine that is approved for use is safe and effective. In many studies and scientific reviews, no correlation has been found between vaccination and death except in rare cases, says Dr Guleria.
However, no vaccine is completely risk-free and serious adverse events can sometimes come up after vaccination.
Some adverse events, including serious side effects and death, can be seen in an extensive vaccination campaign. But in the case of death, proving that the death is caused by the vaccine can be very tricky, because one has to consider all the possible causes.
ICMR's COVID-19 National Task Force's head of operations research, Dr NK Arora, says in this report by The Hindu,
“It is important for people to know that the vulnerable population - elderly people, people with diabetes, chronic lung disease, high blood pressure, kidney problems, diseases like cancer can suffer from heart attack or any other sudden health problems. We cannot and should not associate it with the vaccine in all cases.”Dr. NK Arora, ICMR’s COVID-19 National Task Force’s head of operations research
Should People With High Blood Pressure or those Suffering From Heart Disease Take the Vaccine?
Dr Chhavi Gupta says that at her hospital, everyone who comes for vaccination has their blood pressure and pulse rate checked. Those with high BP are not being vaccinated.
According to Dr Shahid Jameel, people with heart-related disease should consult a physician before taking the vaccine.
There are no publicly available guidelines that lay out what tests should be carried out before administering the COVID vaccine. But in Tamil Nadu, for example, BP, pulse rate and oxygen levels are checked before the vaccine is administered.
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