Big day at clinic a concern for all
Bumrungrad doc says no need to fret over Covid jab side-effects, writes Apinya Wipatayotin
All vaccines available in Thailand now are of sufficient quality and being administered efficiently in the fight against Sars-CoV-2 virus transmission says a virus expert from Bumrungrad International Hospital.
Achirawin Jirakamolchaisiri, the head of Bumrungrad International Hospital's Covid-19 Vaccine Information Centre, said each has gone through three phases of testing, but under different circumstances, so it's hard to give a categorical opinion as to which is best.
Dr Achirawin said such studies have fallen by the wayside in the rush to get mass immunisation rolling. What few studies have been done have generally pointed to a broadly similar level of immunisation arising from their use as well as a similar dampening of symptoms among the already infected.
"All brands, whether Pfizer or AstraZeneca, have reduced overall deaths by at least 80-90% and prevent coma among those with the disease," he said.
Regarding adverse events following immunisation, he said information collected by the Ministry of Public Health found that a small number of vaccine recipients developed severe conditions in the days following their appointment.
So far, 20 cases have arisen from more than two million doses Sinovac administered of patients reporting stroke-like symptoms.
Meanwhile, blood clots have been estimated to arise in 1 in every 100,000 people in South Korea and Europe.
These are similar findings to the side-effects observed among those who received an avian influenza (bird flu) jab when that was still regarded as the world's worst recent pandemic.
However, the 2% death toll and 4% coma rate from Covid vaccines since the third wave begun are high numbers, he said, adding that there have been 136,000 patients reported with the disease since then.
"I want people to consider infor- mation in general, not focus only on small points. Then, they make their own decisions whether they should be vaccinated," he said.
"However, I found that many people want to get it and they often ask me how to prepare ahead of the appointment."
Many want to get it, but they are not sure what steps to take or whether there is enough vaccine to go round, he said. The government should enable easy access to the vaccine.
Major pharmaceutical companies have embraced the most modern technology available, like Pfizer's use of mRNA and the viral vector vaccine from AstraZeneca, to come up with vaccines in an exceedingly small period of time when compared with traditional egg-based approaches. However, people remain worried about their side-effects on humans.
Dr Achirawin played down these fears, saying viral vector vaccines have been used for over five years to guard against Ebola disease and long-term problems among recipients have yet to be reported.
The mRNA technology is the newest, but it was thought to be to impossible for genetic-based vaccine technology to cause significant harm as it dissolves so fast after being given, although further studies are needed.
He said the Covid-19 vaccines of the future could be a cocktail of both to fight adaptations and mutations.
"More and more data from vaccine use is being produced. That is helping us learn more about it, including the challenging issue of whether it should be given to young children. And by next year, we should also know whether there needs to be a yearly vaccination process," he said.
When asked how people should prepare for the vaccine, he advised plenty of sleep and water of water ahead of the appointment. There is no need to avoid drinking tea or coffee.
People living with chronic diseases should not stop taking their medicine, but they should inform the doctor what they are on.
They should stay at the site for a 30-minute observation period after the jab because 99% of vaccine allergy is usually found in the first 15 minutes.
After getting the vaccine, they should avoid any intense exercise for a few days and are advised to see a doctor if they develop severe headaches, debilitating stomach pain or shortness of breath.