With the increasing rollout in Australia of the COVID-19 vaccine, evidence is emerging from around the world regarding potential problems with the vaccine. Unfortunately, this is not only fuelling the fire of the uninformed, unscientific anti-VAXXERS but is also increasing the number of people who are vaccine hesitant.
It is my opinion that either of the aforementioned groups is missing the point. Until either 70% of the population is either exposed to the coronavirus itself or vaccinated, we cannot possibly achieve herd immunity. Thus, without a widespread vaccination program, the more sick, vulnerable and elderly populations are still at risk of developing (which in these groups) can be a very serious and, at times, lethal disease.
The other point that was missed is that the coronavirus itself, even in some seemingly healthy people can still cause problems and at times, rarely, death.
So to address both the recent issues raised of allergies and clotting. Firstly with the allergic risks, the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, one of the most respected hospitals in the world, recently published a trial of just under 53,000 people who were vaccinated using the RNA vaccine, finding that only 2.1% i.e. 1,365 people had an acute allergic reaction with a minimal 0.025%, only 16 people having anaphylaxis with none of those developing the more serious anaphylactic shock or requiring mechanical ventilation.
The clear message here is that if you have a history of allergies, have your vaccination in a hospital and wait for half an hour. If there is going to be any significant allergic reaction, it will occur within this time and you can be properly and adequately treated with no long-term problems.
Secondly, to address the clotting association, I will commence this paragraph by saying that this is complete nonsense. I'm surprised and rather irritated that authorities in a number of European countries stopped the vaccination temporarily for a few weeks whilst they investigated this potential issue.
The reality is that this comes down to pure numbers. There have been 40 reported clotting episodes with four possible deaths. This is amongst 17 million people being vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Astra-Zeneca vaccine.
The typical rates of clotting in the general community are 0.4 to 3 cases per 10,000 population per year. This equates to anywhere between 700 to 5,000 cases per 17 million people. And if you calculate that the vaccine has been available for around three months, the rates of clotting amongst people who have been vaccinated are multiples less than what one would expect in the general community.
Thus on the facts available, it appears that the COVID vaccines and in particular the Astra-Zeneca vaccine actually reduce the risk for clotting in the general community. Thankfully, Europe has recommenced its programs.
What we do know is that the coronavirus itself actually activates the clotting system and markedly increases the risk for severe cases of thromboembolism, thus another strong reason to be vaccinated.
As a doctor who has practiced medicine for over 40 years, it is my opinion that vaccination was the greatest advance of the 20th century and continues clearly to this day to save lives. Isn't it about time that the fools in the community who do not believe in vaccination, woke up to themselves and started to realise the obvious, unquestionable scientific facts of the benefits of vaccination? As soon as it is your turn, it is my strong advice that you roll up your sleeves and be vaccinated not only for your own health but for the good of the community.
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