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DOH set to resume AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination

In this March 22, file photo, vials of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine sit in a fridge at the local vaccine center in Ebersberg near Munich, Germany.

The Department of Health (DOH) will resume vaccination with AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine following the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the DOH All Experts Group on Vaccines.

“After discussions with the DOH All Experts Group and the Philippine College of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine (PCHTM), it was concluded that there are currently no known risk factors for Vaccine-Induced Thrombosis and Thrombocytopenia (VITT) and that the benefits of receiving the vaccine against Covid-19 still outweighs the risk,” the DOH said.

The DOH said that the resumption and issuance of the guideline is timely as 2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine are expected to arrive in the country this month.

However, the DOH stressed that specific guidelines and measures will still be enforced so that the risks can be mitigated.

To date, no local VITT events have been confirmed by the National Adverse Events Following Immunization Committee (NAEFIC) and the FDA.

Previously, DOH adopted the recommendation of the FDA to temporarily suspend the use of AstraZeneca for individuals aged below 60 years old, after recent reports of very rare cases of VITT.

“Based on current evidence, 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,” the DOH said.

Updated guidelines on the management of adverse events following immunization (AEFI) particularly for VITT were also subsequently released by the PCHTM.

Based on the guidelines, all vaccination sites should have a strengthened post-vaccination surveillance to spot possible AEFI.

Further, all health-care workers (HCWs) in vaccination sites will be trained to detect and manage possible symptoms of VITT and refer them accordingly to the appropriate health facility for definitive work-up and management.

The DOH All Experts Group on Vaccines is composed of experts from the DOST Vaccine Expert Panel, Health Technology Assessment Council, Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, NAEFIC, and DOH Technical Advisory Group for Covid-19.

Image courtesy of AP
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