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COVID-19 vaccination – benefits outweigh risks

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the World Health Organization have all reiterated that the benefits of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in the prevention of COVID-19 far outweigh any possible risk of blood clots amongst those groups currently eligible to receive their first vaccination, as well as all of those due their 2nd dose. 
 
Offering further reassurance, the EMA said that these extremely isolated cases “should be listed as very rare side effects”. 

In those aged 18-29, an alternative vaccine will be offered when the time is right for vaccinating this group, and GPs will ensure the appropriate vaccine is offered, and any questions are answered. The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has stated that this change in course has been made – not because there is a high risk to the under 30s from this vaccine, but due to them having taken an approach of the utmost caution - which should provide great reassurance, and is quite normal in the rollout of a global vaccination program. 

More information can be found here: 

COVID-19 vaccination and blood clotting – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

 

COVID-19 vaccination and blood clotting 

The UK vaccination programme has been very successful with more than 30 million people vaccinated and more than 6,000 lives already saved. 

What is the concern? 

Recently there have been reports of a very rare condition involving blood clots and unusual bleeding after vaccination. This is being carefully reviewed but the risk factors for this condition are not yet clear. 

Although this condition remains extremely rare there appears to be a higher risk in people who have had the first dose of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine. Around 4 people develop this condition for every million doses of AZ vaccine doses given. 

This is seen slightly more often in younger people and tends to occur between 4 days and 2 weeks following vaccination. 

 

Benefits and risks of the vaccination

Age 

Risk from COVID-19 

Benefit of vaccination 

Risk of vaccination 

Over 50 years of age or having underlying medical conditions 

Low – catching infection, passing on infection 

1 dose – more than 80% reduction: deaths, hospitalisation, intensive care 

Uncommon – sore arm, feeling tired, headache, general aches, flu like symptoms 

 

Moderate – Long COVID 

2 doses – more than 95% reduction: deaths 

Extremely rare – clotting problems 

 

Very high – hospitalisation, intensive care admission, death 

 

 

30 to 49 years of age 

Low – hospitalisation, intensive care admission, death 

1 dose – between 60% and 70% reduction: catching infection, passing on infection 

Common – sore arm, feeling tired, headache, general aches, flu like symptoms 

 

Moderate – Long COVID 

2 doses – more than 85% reduction: catching and passing on infection 

Extremely rare – clotting problems 

 

High – catching mild infection, passing on infection 

 

 

18 to 29 years of age 

Very low – hospitalisation, intensive care admission, death 

1 dose – between 60% and 70% reduction: catching infection, passing on infection 

Very common – sore arm, feeling tired, headache, general aches, flu like symptoms 

 

Moderate – Long COVID 

2 doses – more than 85% reduction: catching and passing on infection 

Extremely rare – clotting problems 

 

Very high – catching mild infection, passing on infection 

 

 

This condition can also occur naturally, and clotting problems are a common complication of COVID-19 infection. An increased risk has not yet been seen after other COVID-19 vaccines but is being carefully monitored. 
 
What to look out for after vaccination

Although serious side effects are very rare, if you experience any of the following from around 4 days to 4 weeks after vaccination you should seek medical advice urgently: 

  • a new, severe headache which is not helped by usual painkillers or is getting worse 
  • a headache which seems worse when lying down or bending over 
  • an unusual headache that may be accompanied by: 
  • blurred vision, nausea and vomiting 
  • difficulty with your speech 
  • weakness, drowsiness or seizures 
  • new, unexplained pinprick bruising or bleeding 
  • shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal pain  

What you should do next 

Over 50 years of age or with underlying medical conditions 

All older adults (including health and social care workers over 50 years of age), care home residents, health and social care workers (includes unpaid carers and family members of those who are immunosuppressed) and adults with certain medical conditions were prioritised in the first phase of the programme because they were at high risk of the complications of COVID-19. 

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises that you should still receive any of the available COVID-19 vaccines. The benefits of vaccination in protecting you against the serious consequences of COVID-19 outweigh any risk of this rare condition. You should also complete your course with the same vaccine you had for the first dose. 

If your first dose was with AZ vaccine without suffering any serious side effects you should have the second dose on time as you may still be at high risk of the complications of COVID-19. Having the second dose will give you higher and longer lasting protection. 
 

If you are a healthy person over 30 to 50 years of age 

The MHRA and the JCVI advises that all adults in this age group (including health and social care workers) should still receive any of the available COVID-19 vaccines. 

The benefits of vaccination in protecting you against the serious consequences of COVID-19 outweigh any risk of this rare condition. You should also complete your course with the same vaccine you had for the first dose. 

 

If you are a healthy younger person aged 18 to 39 

The MHRA and the JCVI advises that all adults in this age group (including health and social care workers) should still receive any of the available COVID-19 vaccines. The benefits of vaccination in protecting you against the serious consequences of COVID-19 outweigh any risk of this rare condition. You should also complete your course with the same vaccine you had for the first dose. 

Currently JCVI has advised that it is preferable for people under 30 to have a vaccine other than AZ. If you choose to have another COVID-19 vaccine you may have to wait to be protected. You may wish to go ahead with the AZ vaccination after you have considered all the risks and benefits for you. 
 


About the second dose 

If you have already had a first dose of AZ vaccine without suffering any serious side effects you should complete the course. This includes people aged 18 to 29 years who are health and social care workers, unpaid carers and family members of those who are immunosuppressed. It is expected that the first dose of the vaccine will have given you some protection, particularly against severe disease. 

Further information can be found at  NHS.UK. 

 

 

 

Women’s Health

NEW*** Free Online Contraception
If you live in Westminster or Kensington and Chelsea and you’re over 16, you can order your free contraception and sexual health test online through SHL.uk London’s online sexual health service.

All you need to do is register online at SHL.uk and you will be directed to the contraception methods available including Emergency Hormonal Contraception.

If you would like to speak to a health advisor for advice and information on the most suitable contraception you can call 020 3315 9779.

COVID Vaccination update

COVID-19 vaccine clinics continue to operate in Westminster. 
 
The vaccine is being offered to patients in the order defined by the UK government. We are now offering the option for patients to book their vaccine appointment online using accuRx.com
 
 When it’s time for you to have your vaccine, we’ll send you an SMS (this clearly states that it has come from our practice) with a link for you to book your appointment via accuRx. 
 
If you receive this SMS and have any questions about whether you should have the vaccine, e.g., you are unwell, please ring the surgery so that we can discuss this with you. 
 
If you don’t have a mobile telephone, we will contact you directly.   Please do not contact us to ask to be vaccinated – you will be contacted when your appointment is due.

Accessing healthcare

The NHS is very busy responding to the coronavirus pandemic and, at certain times, your GP practice may need to prioritise patients with the most urgent health needs. 

If you have a health issue that isn’t urgent, advice is available on the NHS website www.nhs.uk or NHS app or you can speak to your local pharmacist. You can also use e-consult which is available through our practice website [add link]. If you aren’t sure what to do, please contact the practice who can advise you on how to get the help you need.

Please continue to attend tests, vaccinations and screening when invited.  

www.111.nhs.uk is also available 24/7 for urgent health advice or by calling 111, and 999 is for emergencies.

Coronavirus – Important Update

We are closed this Bank Holiday Monday 25.05.2020. The practice will be open during usual hours for telephone consultations as of Tuesday 26th May 2020. updated 21.05.2020

Dear Patient

In view of the covid-19 virus pandemic, this service is now accessible only by telephone.

If you need to see a doctor/nurse/other clinician please call the surgery and a doctor/nurse will call you back to conduct a telephone consultation.

If need be you will then be invited to attend the surgery at a specific time to avoid long waits in the reception area.

This policy is to help prevent the spread of the infection and keep patients and staff safe.

Your co-operation is vital to achieve this.

Systm Online & Internet Issues

The surgery is currently experiencing technical difficulties with Systm Online and the internet. We do not have access to patient’s medical records or our emails. Please do not email the practice during this time, however you can call us as usual. Please do not come into the practice for the next couple of days, unless it is a medical emergency. We will update you on the website when the issues have been sorted.