Covid-19 Vaccination

During winter, we need to be mindful of obtaining our influenza vaccinations and Covid-19 vaccinations as soon as they are made available to us. Both these infections seem to thrive in the colder conditions as seen in Europe and the Northern Hemisphere. We are now experiencing an outbreak of Covid-19 in Victoria again.

Covid-19 is a highly infectious virus, much more contagious than the flu. It spreads easily from person to person (and within the hotel quarantine). It is vital that many of us get vaccinated as soon as possible. New mass vaccination clinics are starting to open to support GP clinics already giving covid-19 vaccinations.

Both available vaccines here in Australia, Pfizer and Astra Zeneca, are safe and effective vaccines. Both have the same efficacy in real world experience. The rate of very severe side effects from both vaccines is low, even for Astra Zeneca in younger age groups. Flu like symptoms are common and may last 1- 2 days. In many countries overseas, Astra Zeneca is given to all ages. The rate of severe clotting side effects all around the world is approximately 5 – 6/million doses. This risk decreases with increasing age. Past DVT, is not a reason to not have Astra Zeneca vaccine. Only certain rate clotting disorders are recommended to have Pfizer instead of Astra Zeneca. The rare clotting disorder that occurs with Astra Zeneca can now be effectively treated.

Those receiving Astra Zeneca vaccinations should  be aware of these symptoms; ongoing abdominal pain, chest pain, severe headache or calf pain  beyond 4 days after vaccination. This should be looked for, up to 30 days after vaccination and is essential that early medical review is sought.

Remember, you need a 2 week gap between Covid-19 vaccinations and any other vaccination. The way back to the things we love, travel overseas, visiting friends and family interstate, visiting those with chronic health issues, is vaccination.

Dr Margaret Low, General Practitioner

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