The pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has had a torrid time recently. Early in March, reports started emerging in Europe that linked the vaccine to incidences of blood clots. The link sparked widespread panic, and one by one countries started pausing the rollout of the vaccine while health bodies such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) investigated the link. Despite assurances that blood clots are an extremely rare complication, the damage is done in many people’s eyes.
The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the UK’s regulatory body, has issued advice to mitigate the risks posed by the vaccine.
As a precautionary measure, administration of the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in patients with a history of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) should only be considered when the benefit outweighs any potential risks, advises the MHRA.
CVST, which occurs when a blood clot forms in the brain. It has been linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“Vaccinated individuals should also seek immediate medical attention if four or more days after vaccination they develop new onset or worsening severe or persistent headaches with blurred vision, which do not respond to simple painkillers,” advises the MHRA.
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According to the health regulator, people should also seek immediate medical attention if they develop “new” symptoms.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Leg swelling
- Persistent abdominal pain
- Any neurological symptoms or signs (such as confusion or seizures)
- Unusual skin bruising and/or petechiae (tiny purple, red, or brown spots on the skin).
It is important to note that the vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the MHRA.
Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through.
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The MHRA follows international standards of safety.
So far, millions of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or clotting problems, have been very rare.
How to alleviate side effects
If you do experience discomfort following vaccination, there are things you can do to lessen the effects.
“You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to,” advises the NHS.
You can book appointments at a larger vaccination centre or pharmacy now, or wait to be invited to go to a local NHS service.
People at high risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable), can also get the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you’re at high risk, you will have had a letter from the NHS saying you’re clinically extremely vulnerable.
If you’ve had this letter, you can book appointments at a larger vaccination centre or pharmacy now, or wait to be invited to go to a local NHS service.
You must wait to be contacted first.