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Information for NCC patients regarding the Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Below is a statement from the National Coagulation Centre (NCC) regarding the Astra Zeneca COVID19 vaccine:

On 18/03/2021, the safety committee of the EMA released a statement which confirmed that the benefits of the Astra Zeneca COVID19 vaccine continue to outweigh the risk of side effects. In particular, there is no evidence that the vaccine is linked to an increase in general blood clots (for example, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism). There were a very small number of people who had blood clots with low platelet counts (a blood cell which clots the blood) – approximately 1 case per 1 million vaccine doses given.

Importantly, there is no evidence that people with a past history of blood clotting, including blood clots in the brain, are at increased risk for this rare complication. These rare clotting events appear to be due to an unusual response from the immune system and Haematology specialists in Ireland are aware of the recommended blood tests and treatments if there is a suspicion of one of these rare cases. Of note, there has been no case reported in Ireland to date.

This advice was given after a very thorough review of all of the information regarding people who received this vaccine and included input from experts in blood clotting from Ireland and other European countries.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee has also recommended that the Astra Zeneca vaccine can be used as part of the vaccination programme in Ireland and has issued the following information for vaccine recipients:

Information for vaccine recipients
• COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is not associated with an increased overall risk of blood clotting disorders.
• There have been very rare cases of unusual blood clots accompanied by low levels of blood platelets (components that help blood to clot) after vaccination. The reported cases were almost all in women under 55 years of age. This may be due to vaccination of healthcare workers in this age group.
• Because COVID-19 can be so serious and is so widespread, the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the risks of these very rare events.
• Seek prompt medical assistance and mention your recent vaccination if you get any of the following after receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca:
• breathlessness,
• pain in the chest or stomach,
• swelling or coldness in an arm or leg,
• severe or worsening headache or blurred vision after vaccination,
• persistent bleeding,
• multiple small bruises, reddish or purplish spots, or blood blisters under the skin

Remember, some people will experience mild flu-like symptoms including headache, chills, fever and/or muscle aches. These are common side effects of any COVID-19 vaccine. These usually appear within a few hours and resolve within one or two days.

Advice for people who are on anticoagulants and are due to receive any COVID-19 vaccine is available on the patient information tab of the NCC website here