CHENNAI: The chance of dying from getting a Covid vaccine is 0.0002 per cent, based on data derived from 43 lakh vaccine doses administered in Tamil Nadu, said Director of Public Health (DPH) and preventive medicine, TS Selvavinayagam, speaking to Express. “The chance of an individual dying from Covid-19 is 40 times higher than the chance of one dying from its vaccine,” he said responding to public concerns on vaccine safety after the death of actor Vivekh.
Dr Gagandeep Kang, FRS, and a vice-chair of the board of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness, Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore said that it is very hard to identify a risk factor based on a single-case.
“Risk factors for a vaccine can only be assessed at a population level. The assessment shows that the benefits outweigh the risk,” she said.
That being said, one should keep in mind that vaccination neither offers blanket protection nor is 100% safe for all. Kang says those who faced severe allergic reactions like an anaphylactic shock due to first dose of a vaccine should avoid the second dose of the same vaccine. “Even if people develop an allergic reaction, it can be treated with a shot of adrenaline,” she says, adding people with history of food and other allergies must still take the jab.
Commenting on international studies that have shown isolated cases of severe blood clotting after taking Covishield, Kang says while this is a rare side effect, mortality can be prevented if people approach medical facilities when they experience persistent headache, abdominal pain, superficial bleeding or seizure after four to 20 days from taking the vaccination. “There are clear pathways to manage these effects,” she said.
Dr P Surendran, Professor in General Surgery and Medical Superintendent, Sri Ramachandra Medical College, Porur told Express: “In these rare cases of clotting, it was found that platelets in the body aggregated with the vaccine causing clotting. When patients have a history of deep vein thrombosis, we recommend Covaxin instead of Covishield. This however is based on our understanding of these rare cases.”
He added that out of the 17,000 individuals vaccinated with Covishield at SRMC, about 10 per cent came back with mild to moderate fever, body pain or loose stools. “Two people, with bronchial asthma and severe headache, were admitted for observation and discharged after 12 hours,” he said, adding that of 2,000 people administered Covaxin, few reported any serious side effects.
"Currently we also do not administer the vaccine to those under 18, pregnant women and lactating mothers. Everyone else must take the vaccine," he said. He said that although vaccines may not completely prevent transmission of Covid-19, it certainly reduced the severity of the disease.
Responding to risk people with comorbidities have to take the vaccine, he said, "Majority of people with comorbidities have no to moderate
reaction to the vaccines. However they have a higher chance of mortality if they get Covid-19," he said.
Another risk factor is allergic reactions to other vaccines in the past, said Dr Hariharan, Infectious Diseases Department, Gleneagles Global Hospitals. Hariharan also added that the proportion of youngsters with Covid-19 being admitted into ICU has been on the rise as vaccination rate has increased among senior citizens.
Sources in health department say, night-curfew after 8pm, restriction on gathering in public places and closure of entertainment places may be discussed in today’s meeting with top officials and CM.