In some European countries, health officials are facing resistance to AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after side effects caused hospital staff and other frontline workers to fall ill, adding to the strain on already overloaded services.
Symptoms such as those reported in clinical studies for the AstraZeneca shot may include high temperature or a headache and are a normal sign that the body is generating an immune response. They usually fade within a day or so.
The other European-approved shots developed by Pfizer and Moderna have been linked to similar temporary side effects such as fever and fatigue.
Since the AstraZeneca shot was introduced at the latest, the French health authorities have issued guidelines for staggering the shot. Two regions in Sweden have suspended vaccinations and in Germany some key workers are rejecting it.
An AstraZeneca spokesperson said, “Currently, the reported reactions are what we would expect based on the evidence gathered from our clinical trial program.”
People receiving the vaccine will be closely monitored through routine pharmacovigilance activities, the Anglo-Swedish drug maker said, adding that it continues to monitor the situation closely.
“No serious adverse events were confirmed,” said the spokesman.
“MORE SIDE EFFECTS”
In France, which began administering the AstraZeneca shot on February 6, employees at a hospital in Normandy experienced more severe side effects than the alternative vaccine from Pfizer and German partner BioNTech.
“AstraZeneca caused more side effects than the Pfizer vaccine,” said Melanie Cotigny, communications manager at Saint Lo Hospital in Normandy.
“Between 10% and 15% of those vaccinated may experience side effects from this vaccination, but it’s just a febrile state, fever, nausea and within 12 hours it goes away.”
Following similar reports from other hospitals, the French Drug Safety Agency stated on February 11th that such side effects were “known and described” but that their intensity should be monitored.
Guidelines have also been issued for staggering vaccinations for frontline workers who work in teams to minimize the risk of operational disruptions.
The agency issued the advice after receiving 149 warnings of commonly severe flu-like side effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine. During this time, a total of 10,000 people across the country received the shot.
Some US hospitals and other front-line organizations followed a similar strategy when the country’s vaccination program began in December. The US manages Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna recordings.
In the UK, home of the AstraZeneca vaccine developed at Oxford University, the policy was to make vaccinations readily available to hospital staff. So many working shifts, of course, that clears up the process.
The themes in France show how some doctors and hospitals are still learning the best ways to deliver vaccines as governments try to tame the pandemic and shoot it in the arms as soon as possible.
It is also the most recent setback for the French vaccination campaign, which has been criticized for getting off to a slow start. Last week the government said just over 3% of the population received their first dose.
In Sweden, two out of 21 health regions stopped vaccinating workers last week after being reported sick a quarter after the AstraZeneca shot.
The regions of Sormland and Gavleborg reported that around 100 out of 400 people vaccinated had reported fever or fever-like symptoms. Most of the cases were mild and consistent with previously reported side effects.
Both regions said they would restart vaccinations and the Swedish Medical Devices Agency saw no reason to change their vaccination guidelines.
AstraZeneca’s vector-based vaccine is the third to receive regulatory approval in the European Union.
As part of the positive recommendation from the European Medicines Agency on Jan. 29, the watchdog concluded that it was about 60% effective, compared to more than 90% for the Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
The product is also classified as safe and reports of side effects are routinely monitored.
In Germany, Health Minister Jens Spahn responded on Wednesday to reports that key workers were reluctant to receive the AstraZeneca shot after some severe side effects because it was both safe and effective.
“I would be vaccinated with it immediately,” Spahn told reporters.
As in most European countries, German states usually don’t offer people a choice of vaccines, which in some cases results in people not showing up for appointments to get the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Germany received 737,000 doses from AstraZeneca but administered only 107,000, according to figures from the Ministry of Health and the Robert Koch Institute, which is leading the pandemic response.
“This vaccine is an excellent way to prevent serious COVID illnesses,” said the Ministry of Health in the East Saxon country. “However, we note that there are still vacant vaccination data for AstraZeneca.
“In our view, it is wrong for this vaccine to be available but not used,” it said, adding that he was reassigning replacement shots to teachers and public health workers.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)