A Sydney doctor has weighed into the AstraZeneca debate and made a very good point about the vaccine in Aussie history.
Question: Hi Dr Zac, To say I'm confused is an understatement. Do I or do I not get the AstraZeneca vaccine? I'm 30, have no history of blood clots and am usually healthy.
I want lockdowns to be over, just like everyone else, and being vaccinated is the only way I can help to end lockdowns. I'm too anxious about catching Covid to wait months for Pfizer but I'm also worried about the AstraZeneca jab.
I just need some clear guidance on whether people my age should get AstraZeeneca if they're allowed. – Taylor, 30, Sydney
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Answer: Hi Taylor, did you know the risk of blood-clotting when taking the female contraception pill is 1 in 1000, while the risk with the AstraZeneca vaccine is 1 in 100,000? You don't see media campaigns blaming politicians about the pill being available for Australian women, do you? The risk of dying from Viagra is 1 in 20,000 but men still take it daily.
If you want to talk numbers, the chance of dying from being struck by lightning is 1 in 138,849, sunstroke is 1 in 8,248, a pedestrian incident is 1 in 543 and cancer is 1 in 7.
Remember – 30,000 Australians have blood clots every year, that's 82 a day. It's all about perspective.
You need to understand that side-effects from medications are more common than you think, and I can guarantee you have taken on those risks countless times in your life before.
Let me quickly explain how the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines work.
The AstraZeneca vaccine uses a non-replicant adenovirus, which is a fancy way of saying a harmless virus that doesn't multiply. Our body identifies this harmless virus, begins a response to this antigen and eventually builds memory on how to eliminate it in the future. Your body is so smart that if you catch Covid, it will see the similarities to the virus it's already dealt with and commence the same response.
The body's immune response to the vaccine is the explanation for the side-effects people experience like fever, flushes, chills and body aches. A common misconception is that people assume this is the body dealing with Covid-19. It's not, it's just your body's natural immune response.
Pfizer works slightly differently. Rather than using a non-replicant adenovirus, it uses a molecule called RNA, which is like a messenger of sorts that lets your cells know all the gossip and genetic information of the Covid-19 virus. Your body learns this instruction manual and becomes equipped at eliminating the Covid virus.
There is no question that the current vaccines are effective and safe. The risk of severe reaction to a Covid-19 jab is outweighed by the protection it offers against the deadly coronavirus.
A survey by the Australian National Centre for Immunisation and Surveillance has reported roughly half of the people who receive a Covid-19 vaccine report some kind of adverse reaction, but only 1.2 per cent of people attend a doctor or emergency department as a result.
Let's be clear, it is perfectly normal to have a sore arm, headache, and fatigue in the first two days after being vaccinated. It's a great sign of your immune system doing its job and operating perfectly.
There is a risk of blood clots with the AstraZeneca vaccine, but I can guarantee you, or someone you know, has taken medication with far greater risks and never blinked an eyelid about it.
– Antibiotics cause allergic reactions in around five per cent of the population which is around 1,300,000 Australians.
– Ibuprofen increases the risk of heart attack or stroke in people with heart disease or a family history of heart disease – sound familiar? If you won't take the AstraZeneca vaccine, it's hypocritical to take Ibuprofen.
– Both Pfizer and AstraZeneca manufacture the anti-clotting drug Heparin, which is classified as a high-risk medication by the government. Doctors will often prescribe Heparin because the benefits often outweigh the risks.
Taylor, I recommend you turn off the TV and speak with your doctor about what vaccine you should take. I personally do not believe all the fuss about the AstraZeneca vaccine. We put more damaging things into our body daily.