COVID Vaccine - will you or won't you..
Well, despite much trepidation over the speed and therefore safety of the vaccines produced to save the world from this killer virus, vaccines are working and allowing communities to get on with their lives.
We have many people to thank as a world, those who contributed to the research and development, technology and manufacturing of the finished product, all the prototypes, those who bravely put their hand up for clinical trials, the leaders and purse holders who funded and supported all those involved and finally those that accepted in spite of the scaremongering, conspiracy theory's and fear of the unknown put their hand up to get vaccinated.
So far, there are 15 vaccines in use around the world.
They are very effective. We are learning they are more effective after getting the second dose, in particularly for the mutant strains from India where so many are suffering with the second wave. With only 3% of the country fully vaccinated, it seems cruel as India manufactures vaccines for most of the world.
(Want to help India? There are many reputable organisations - find one that you feel comfortable with such as Unicef.)
The more opportunity the virus has to replicate itself (as long as it lives in us, it makes babies that go on to infect others) the more it throws an error or mutates the genetic material. This is called a mutation. Thus the more people vaccinated the shorter life the viruses get and less opportunities to reproduce and potentially make a mutant that will not match the vaccines.
Cases and deaths from Coronavirus continue - many sites are reporting on this. For example: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-51235105
So - What do we know about the vaccines?
- It's saving lives - literally
- Preventing transmission
- Preventing people getting really sick
- Preventing long term "post covid" symptoms
- You need 2 doses to be effective against mutating strains from India
Further, in countries with high rates of vaccinations it is reducing the need to lock down and they are allowing more freedoms, including economies to get back to work.
- There are more side effects albeit short lived than the flu vaccine, requiring people to take over the counter pain relief to alleviate symptoms that keep them home from work.
- One of the vaccines (AstraZeneca) has been linked to a extremely rare but serious side effect of a blood clotting condition called Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS)
*as of 2nd Week August 2021 - risk of getting TTS linked to the Astra Zeneca Vaccine in Australia = 0.0014% There has been 6 deaths from 7,400,000 doses. (https://www.tga.gov.au/periodic/covid-19-vaccine-weekly-safety-report-12-08-2021)
Thrombosis (Blood clot) with thrombocytopenia (low Platelets) syndrome” is when the blood forms lots of little micro clots thought to be caused by the body's immune reaction making platelets stick together using them up causing the overall levels of platelets in the blood to drop.
So far the risk factors seem to be woman under the age of 60.
Watch this animated video to see how platelets (Thrombocytes) work to form a clot
(Video courtesy of Science Art, YouTube)
Platelets stop you bleeding to death when you cut yourself as they plug the hole in tissues and vessels to stop. As this is a very unusual condition, it is easily diagnosed with a simple blood test and imaging of the affected area.
See the Australian Government information about weighing up the benefits vs risk of harm for this vaccine. Numbers from the UK have been used showing rates of 2.7 per 100,000 almost exclusively from first dose - of those 18% died. In Australia the fatality rate is 3% of those that get TTS - so significantly lower I would assert is due to our currently unburdened by COVID patients health system.
Recognising the symptoms of TTS is best way to mitigate the risk as early intervention is very effective. Symptoms can be experienced between 4 - 30 days after vaccination:
Symptoms of Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS):
**People should seek medical attention immediately if they experience these symptoms.
- Severe persistent headache not relieved with simple over the counter analgesia such as Panadol, Aspirin or Ibuprofen
- Blurred Vision
- Changes to speech
- Fits or Seizures
- Breathlessness, chest pain
- Pain and swelling in leg
- Persistent tummy pain
- Strange rash that looks like small bruise or bleeding under the skin, beyond the injection site that can’t be explained.
*NEW rare side effects of the Pfizer Vaccine:
Myocarditis and Pericarditis
Pericardium = Lining of the heart
"itis" = Inflamation.
A very rare side effect has been reported following the Pfizer Vaccine which involves mild inflammation of heart or it's lining more often after the second vaccine and in younger men within 14 days after. So look for symptoms of chest pain (tightness, ache, pressure) the symptoms may change when you move.
Important to note:
- You are more likely to get TTS with the first dose of Vaccine - but there have been a few cases with the second dose.
- Research proving vaccines are effective if you have one dose with one brand and the second with a different one won't be available for some time, so currently the recommendation is to continue with the brand of vaccine you started with as the research is now robust in proving it works
- Immunity is best after having 2 doses with a good time interval between them. Way better than just having one - especially against the mutating strains
- COVID is world wide
- Countries that have high vaccination rates where people have had both doses are loosening restrictions as vaccinations are working - to stop people getting really sick and dying
- COVID is burning a hole in our country bank account...
At the end of the day, whether or not I get vaccinated not only affects me, my immediate family, neighborhood, community, town, state and country. We are seeing that impacts every other human being on the planet.
I am vaccinated because it works to prevent COVID spreading and it is the right thing to do for everyone. If you don't want to vaccinate, I hear you, I see you and you have your reasons - that's ok.
I pray what we are doing as a world is enough to conquer this virus and bring us together in our shared vulnerability as human beings. Imagine what we could do together next!
Want to check your COVID/Flu symptoms? Click here (Australian Government Symptom Checker link).
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*updated 15 August 2021