Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine side effects: Five reasons to consult your doctor beforehand

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A smattering of reports have found blood clots formed in recipients of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Despite several countries pausing the rollout, health bodies such as European Medicines Agency (EMA) have sought to reassure the public about its safety, pointing out that there is no indication at present that the blood clots were caused by the jab. Nonetheless, there are reasons to tell your doctor, pharmacist or nurse before getting vaccinated.

According to Public Health England (PHE), you should consult a health professional first if you have ever had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) after any other vaccine injection.

Other reasons include:

  • If you currently have a severe infection with a high temperature (over 38°C).
  • However, a mild fever or infection, like a cold, are not reasons to delay vaccination;
  • If you have a problem with bleeding or bruising, or if you are taking a blood thinning medicine (anticoagulant);
  • If your immune system does not work properly (immunodeficiency) or you are taking medicines that weaken the immune system (such as high-dose corticosteroids, immunosuppressants or cancer medicines).

“If you are not sure if any of the above applies to you, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse before you are given the vaccine,” advises the PHE.

There are other important facts about the vaccine that can manage your expectations.

As the PHE notes, as with any vaccine, the AstraZeneca vaccine may not protect everyone who is vaccinated from COVID-19.

“It is not yet known how long people who receive the vaccine will be protected for,” says the health body.

“No data are currently available in individuals with a weakened immune system or who are taking chronic treatment that suppresses or prevents immune responses.”

What are the possible side effects of the coronavirus vaccines?

According to the NHS, some of the common side effects of the coronavirus vaccine may include:

  • Tenderness, swelling and/or redness at the injection site
  • Headache
  • Muscle ache
  • Feeling tired
  • Fever (temperature above 37.8°C).

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“A less common side effect is swollen glands in the armpit or neck, on the same side as the arm where you had the vaccine,” says the health body.

As it explains, this can last for around 10 days, but if it lasts longer see your doctor.

“If you feel uncomfortable, take paracetamol. Make sure you take paracetamol as directed on the label or leaflet,” it advises.

How the UK vaccine rollout works

The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus.

In England, the vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at local centres run by GPs and at larger vaccination centres. More centres are opening all the time.

It’s being given to:

  • People aged 55 and over
  • People at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
  • People who live or work in care homes
  • health and social care workers
  • People with a condition that puts them at higher risk (clinically vulnerable)
  • People with a learning disability
  • People who are a main carer for someone at high risk from coronavirus.

The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

If you are not eligible yet you must wait to be contacted.

The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine.

It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.

You can book appointments at a larger vaccination centre or a pharmacy that provides COVID-19 vaccinations if you’re eligible, however.

You do not need to wait to be contacted by the NHS if this applies to you.

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