Following the rolling out of Covid-19 vaccines across the globe, many expressed concerns about possible side effects of a vaccine produced on a mass scale in a much shorter amount of time than normal. Despite a low occurrence of negative side effects, the UK government announced on April 7th that it would stop administering the Astrazeneca vaccine to under 30’s following the occurrence of blood clots.
This link between the vaccine and blood clots is tentative; it is still early on in the vaccine’s life-cycle, and therefore links cannot yet be made categorically. The type of blood clots observed are concerning due to them being much more aggressive – and therefore more deadly – than blood clots normally found in the general population. They also occur in different places – the abdomen and the brain – than where they are normally found, along with low levels of platelets responsible for blood clotting, which has prompted a link to the vaccine. As the link is tentative, it also makes it much harder to determine who is at the highest risk for a negative response from the Astrazeneca vaccine. Early research demonstrates that it may be more common in young people, which has prompted the government’s decision for offering under-30’s alternative covid vaccines.
Should we be worried?
Side effects are possible with any drug or medication, however, you are more likely to be bitten by a shark (1/700,000) compared to suffering an allergic reaction from a vaccine (1/760,000). Obviously that number varies; you are more likely to suffer from a vaccine reaction if you already suffer from severe allergies or have a weakened immune system, but the general occurrence is low. The vaccine is not encouraged in those with severe allergies, and this has been advised since before any link between the vaccine and blood clots. Also, the occurrence of blood clots in those suffering from COVID-19 is about 8 times higher than the risk associated with the vaccine. There are also many commonly used drugs with a much higher occurrence of blood clots than the vaccine presents – ‘the pill’ is now a well-known example, which has a blood clot occurence rate of 2/10,000, much higher than the 1/250,000 risk which has so far been estimated for the vaccine.
A reaction to a vaccine is extremely rare, and as long as you don’t pose any extra risk (such as suffering from severe allergies) you are likely to come out the other side of the vaccine immune to covid without any serious side effects.