Barnfield Hill Surgery

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Oxford AZ Vaccine – Advice for Patients

You may be concerned to hear the changing advice in relation to the Oxford AZ vaccination.

Recently there have been reports of a very rare condition involving blood clots and unusual bleeding after vaccination. This is being carefully reviewed but the risk factors for this condition are not yet clear.

Although this condition remains extremely rare there appears to be a higher risk in people who have had the first dose of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine. Around 4 people develop this condition for every million doses of AZ vaccine doses given.

This is seen slightly more often in younger people and tends to occur between 4 days and 2 weeks following vaccination.

This condition can also occur naturally, and clotting problems are a common complication of COVID-19 infection.

To understand the risk the government has set out a series of slides from the recent research.

As a practice we report any side effects from the vaccine via robust reporting portal which feeds back any evidence and data to the national teams. It is through this robust reporting this very rare side effect has been identified. You can be confident that the 79 cases identified which equates to a risk of 4 in every million doses given is an accurate number.

So why is Oxford AZ safe for us over 30 but not for people under 30?

As with any situation you measure the level of risk, if you think about car insurance the risk of an inexperienced driver having an accident is far higher than the risk of a very experienced driver having an accident. Some companies will even refuse to insure young new drivers. The same principle is used in identifying the risks of serious illness versus the risk of a blood clot for those under the age of 30. The risks of 4 in one million people experiencing a blood clot is higher than the risk of someone aged under 30 experiencing severe or serious complications from catching Covid 19. Therefore the sensible thing to do would be to advise those under 30 not to receive the Oxford AZ vaccination. For those of us over 30 years of age the risk of severe illness or complications from Covid 19 is higher than the risk of a blood clot. Therefore it is better we are protected as early as we can.

To read more about the research and the reports you can access the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations here 

There is also a patient leaflet available here 

If you have recently received a vaccination and are concerned about what to watch out for the following is a useful guide:

If  you experience any of the following from around 4 days to 4 weeks after vaccination you should seek medical advice urgently:

  • a new, severe headache which is not helped by usual painkillers or is getting worse
  • a headache which seems worse when lying down or bending over
  • an unusual headache that may be accompanied by:
    • blurred vision, nausea and vomiting
    • difficulty with your speech
    • weakness, drowsiness or seizures
  • new, unexplained pinprick bruising or bleeding
  • shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain