AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and blood clots
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said the available evidence does not suggest that blood clots in veins (venous thromboembolism) are caused by the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca. This follows a detailed review of report cases as well as data from hospital admissions and GP records. This has been confirmed by the Government’s independent advisory group, the Commission on Human Medicines, whose expert scientists and clinicians have also reviewed the available data.
A further detailed review into five UK reports of a very rare and specific type of blood clot in the cerebral veins (sinus vein thrombosis) occurring together with lowered platelets (thrombocytopenia) is ongoing. This has been reported in fewer than 1 in a million people vaccinated so far in the UK and can also occur naturally – a causal association with the vaccine has not been established.
The MHRA’s advice remains that the benefits of being vaccinated continue to outweigh any risks and that the public should continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so.
The European Medicines Agency has concluded their review and stated that the benefits of vaccination still outweigh the risks despite a possible link to rare cerebral blood clots with low blood platelets. A review into whether the vaccine could be the cause of this rare type of cerebral blood clot alongside low blood platelets is ongoing and the EMA, working alongside the MHRA, will continue to investigate this.
Information for patients and the public
Thrombotic events in veins are common in the general population and have not previously been associated with vaccination.
From the millions of people already vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, there is no evidence of an increased incidence of blood clots in veins (DVT) higher than that seen in the general population.
There are no confirmed issues related to any batch of vaccine used across Europe, or the rest of the world. Additional testing has, and is, being conducted by AstraZeneca and independently by European health authorities and none of these re-tests have shown cause for concern.
The MHRA is advising, as a precautionary measure, that anyone vaccinated who develops a headache that lasts for more than 4 days after vaccination or if they develop any bruising beyond the site of vaccination after a few days, should seek medical attention.
Mild flu-like symptoms remain one of the most common side effects of any COVID-19 vaccine, including headache, chills and fever. These generally appear within a few hours and resolve within a day or two, and not everyone gets them.
Covid Vaccination FAQs
How will patients be invited for a vaccination?
When it is the right time people will receive an invitation to come forward. For most people this will be in the form of a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number.
We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we are asking people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they get their letter.
Is the NHS confident the vaccine is safe?
Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until experts have signed off that it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator, have said this vaccine is very safe and highly effective, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.
As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products. There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process, and continued monitoring once it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.
How long does the vaccine take to become effective?
The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of your suffering from COVID-19 disease. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.
Why is it important to get your COVID-19 vaccination?
If you’re a frontline worker in the NHS, you are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at work.
Getting your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you can, should protect you and may help to protect your family and those you care for.
The COVID-19 vaccine should help reduce the rates of serious illness and save lives and will therefore reduce pressure on the NHS and social care services.
Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly?
Yes, the Pfizer vaccine does not contain any meat derivatives or porcine products.
If, and when, further vaccines are approved we will publish information about known allergens or ingredients that are important for certain faiths, cultures and beliefs.
Who cannot have the vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccination is not recommended for women who are pregnant.
People who are suffering from a fever-type illness should also postpone having the vaccine until they have recovered.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
This is all included in the information published by the MHRA, and Public Health England will also be publishing more resources for patients and professionals. People can be assured the NHS will ensure that they have all the necessary information on those vaccines that are approved by the MHRA before they attend for their vaccination.
Is the NHS confident the vaccine will be safe?
Yes. The NHS would not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public until it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator authorising licensed use of medicines and vaccines by healthcare professionals, has made this decision, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.
As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products. There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process.
What is the evidence to show the vaccine is safe for BAME communities?
The phase three study of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated a vaccine efficacy of 95%, with consistent efficacy across age, gender and ethnicity. Overall, among the participants who received the COVID-19 vaccine 82.1% were White, 9.6% were Black or African American, 26.1% were Hispanic/Latino, 4.3% were Asian and 0.7% were Native American/Alaskan.
I’m currently ill with COVID-19, can I get the vaccine?
People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until they have recovered.
Do people who have already had COVID-19 get vaccinated?
Yes, they should get vaccinated. There is no evidence of any safety concerns from vaccinating individuals with a past history of COVID-19 infection, or with detectable COVID-19 antibody, so people who have had COVID-19 disease (whether confirmed or suspected) can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their time to do so.
Are there any known or anticipated side effects?
Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. Even if you do have symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.
Very common side effects include:
Having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around 1-2 days after the vaccine
General aches, or mild flu like symptoms
As with all vaccines, appropriate treatment and care will be available in case of a rare anaphylactic event following administration.
How many doses of the vaccine will be required and when?
You are required to have two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, 21 days apart. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of vaccine.
I have had my flu vaccine, do I need the COVID-19 vaccine as well?
The flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19. As you are eligible for both vaccines you should have them both, but normally separated by at least a week.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine protect me from flu?
No, the COVID-19 vaccine will not protect you against the flu. If you have been offered a flu vaccine, please try to have this as soon as possible to help protect you, your family and patients from flu this winter.
Please see this information guide regarding Face Coverings.
The Government recently announced the introduction of a test to detect the presence of the Covid 19 antibody. It is not fully understood what a positive antibody test means in terms of immunity and future risk from COVID-19. At the moment, tests are only available for the purpose of increasing understanding of who has (or has not) had an immune response. There is little clinical benefit in knowing this information as the evidence so far does not show that having had the virus once provides immunity to prevent a patient getting the virus a second time. Hence it is extremely important that we all continue with the current approach of social distancing, hand washing, infection control procedures and so on. The test may be offered, if deemed appropriate, to those patients who are having a blood test for another clinical reason.
The antibody test is not currently being offered to the general population. Some patients have said that their employer has asked for the test to be undertaken before they return to work. This is not in line with current government guidance
Please find via the link, information in relation to the COVID- 19 World Pandemic that has been produced by Doctors Of The World available in 32 different languages:
Information for the public on the outbreak of coronavirus, including the current situation in the UK and information about the virus and its symptoms.
COVID Symptom Tracker - Take 1 minute to report your health daily, even if you're well
The NHS across Suffolk will be better prepared for outbreaks of new infectious diseases, if the public follows Public Health England advice.
The NHS has put in place measures to ensure the safety of patients and staff which may mean your patient experience is subject to change.
The Chief Medical Officer announced on Friday 13 March that the country is moving into the ‘Delay’ stage of the response to coronavirus (Covid-19).
The new advice issued by the Chief Medical Officer is to stay at home for 7 days if you have either:
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or a hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
Stay At Home Advice can be found on the NHS website.
For the latest Covid-19 advice please watch the following video created by Dr Havard.
Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England advice to:
Information remains subject to regular change and updates. More information can be found on the NHS website.
The Government’s rules around issuing a sick note (Med3) are that a medical professional can only issue a Med3 when an individual has had more than seven continuous calendar days off sick due to an illness (including weekends).
For any period of illness less than seven days, you are able to complete a self-certification certificate and provide this to your employer. In the unlikely event that your employer does not accept a self-certification then your doctor may be able to issue a private sick note for which you may get charged.
In light of the current Coronavirus situation, it is inevitable that a number of employees may be required to quarantine themselves at home for example due to the nature of recent travel, even in the absence of any symptoms of an illness. In these cases, your GP will not be abIe to issue a sick note as the time off work is not due to an illness, and isn’t affecting your ability to work, but rather is a precaution to avoid transmission of any illness that is yet to produce symptoms.
We therefore expect your employer to be sympathetic if you are required to self-isolate for 14 days and to understand that the reason for this is to protect the welfare of your work colleagues and the wider community. We understand that you may also be able to call NHS 111 to request an email confirmation of the suspected Coronavirus diagnosis, to show to your employer if needed.
Whilst we appreciate this may cause some difficulties between you and your employer, equally GPs have a responsibility to prioritise the assessment and management of the healthcare needs of patients who are acutely unwell, rather than spending time dealing with requests for sick notes, particularly when they aren’t in a position to issue one.
Also, for children taking time off school, there is no NHS requirement for GPs to provide letters to the school to confirm this. As I am sure you will appreciate, with the rapidly evolving Coronavirus situation, and the already existing pressures on GPs to meet the day to day demands from ill patients, the practice is unable to accommodate a school request for a GP letter. We hope that schools will work with parents to ensure any time off is appropriately recorded, obviating the need for a doctor’s note. This briefing has been written for and on behalf of your GP surgery, so please accept this as a reply to your request for a sick note/letter from the surgery.
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