WITH the death of 23 people, mostly older adults, in Norway after being vaccinated by Covid-19 US-Germany Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines, more people have become apprehensive to be vaccinated. This raised again the question on the safety of these vaccines. Would people, regardless of age group, get the same vaccine doses? Or will older people get a different kind of vaccine?
Twenty-three elderly patients died in Norway following their vaccination with the Pfizer-BionNtech mRNA vaccine against Covid-19. Following this, the Norwegian government launched a detailed investigation into the reported fatalities. More than 30,000 people have received the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna Covid vaccines in the Scandinavian country since the end of December.
Doctors in Norway have been asked to conduct a more thorough evaluation of every frail elderly patient in line for the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine following the reported deaths. But some experts say it may just be a coincidence. There is no established connection between these deaths and the vaccine. But whatever it is, the Norway cases have raised alarm on the possible end-users of these vaccines. Filipino senior citizens are skeptical over our forthcoming vaccination program for fear that what happened in Norway might happen to them.
According to an article published by The Guardians written by Nicola David, “Concerns around the efficacy of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca coronavirus jab in older people could lead to different age groups being given different vaccines, expert have said. The Oxford/AstraZaneca announced that the vaccine had a 70 percent efficacy overall. For most trial participants given two full doses, spaced a month apart, efficacy was 62 percent, but for 3,000 participants mistakenly given half a dose for their first jab, the efficacy was 90 percent. No participant, regardless of dose, developed severe Covid or was hospitalized with the disease.
Regulatory bodies, such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have previously said they would approve a vaccine that prevents Covid or reduces the diseases’ severity in at least 50 percent of vaccinated people. The Oxford/Astrazeneca results caused more excitement, with the 90 percent figure rivaling those vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BionNtech.
However, it has emerged that the group that received the low dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine did not include any participant over the age of 55, meaning it is unclear whether the 90 percent efficacy holds for older adults who are at high risk from Covid. This has led the company to announce a new trial using the lower dose regimen until it was approved by regulatory bodies and being rolled out in UK and Europe.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez said that in view of the Norway incident, the National Vaccination Program has changed strategy. They want to vaccinate only those aged 16 years old up to 65 years old. They will look for a vaccine that would be used for those 65 years old and above. Senior citizens were supposed to be in the priority list for the vaccination program, but in view of the Norway incident, they would be excluded in the list.
But it is not a guarantee that you will not be infected with the disease once you get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending the following for people who get vaccinated against Covid-19, especially older adults: 1) Even after people get both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, they must remain vigilant at protecting themselves from catching the virus and spreading it to others; 2) Everyone needs to continue social distancing, wear face masks and practice hand hygiene; 3) Older adults, who are at an increased risk for severe illness or death if they get Covid-19, should stay in close contact with their doctors and tell them about any changes in their health. After they get the Covid-19 vaccine jab, they should also let their doctor know about any side effects they experience.
If this is the case, the more people will not submit themselves for vaccination. What’s the use when we can still be infected?