THE Department of Health (DOH) on Friday, May 7, 2021, announced the resumption of vaccinations using the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine ahead of the expected delivery of two million doses within the month.
The agency said guidelines on the management of adverse events following immunization (AEFI), particularly for the very rare vaccine-induced thrombosis and thrombocytopenia (VITT), have been updated.
VITT is a very rare condition of blood clots associated with low platelet counts that can occur 4 to 28 days after receiving a viral vector vaccine such as AstraZeneca, DOH said in a statement Friday.
Vaccinations using the AstraZeneca vaccine were halted for individuals under 60 years old on April 8 because of recent reports of very rare cases of blood clots.
The Philippines earlier received 525,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which were all administered as first dose. The second dose is to be given 12 weeks later.
The DOH said its All Experts Group on Vaccines and the Philippine College of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine have determined that there are currently no known risk factors for VITT.
To date, no local VITT events have been confirmed by the National Adverse Events Following Immunization Committee and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The DOH also said the vaccine experts have concluded that the benefits of receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine still outweigh the risk.
Based on the guidelines, all vaccination sites should have a strengthened post-vaccination surveillance to spot possible AEFI.
All healthcare workers at the vaccination sites should also be trained to detect and manage possible symptoms of VITT, and refer them to the appropriate health facility for definitive work-up and management.
The AstraZeneca vaccine, which was donated through the Covax facility, was approved in the Philippines for adults 18 years old and older.
The Philippines has been allotted more than 4.0 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through Covax.
The private sector and local government units have also placed an order for 17 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)