Morrison government orders Pfizer ‘boosters’, while hoping new ATAGI advice will warm people to AstraZeneca


Michelle Grattan, University of CanberraWhile still struggling with a current shortage of Pfizer, the Morrison government announced it has secured 85 million doses of that vaccine for future “booster” shots.

This will be made up of 60 million doses in 2022, and 25 million doses in 2023. Delivery will start in the first quarter of next year.

Scott Morrison said on Sunday this was “prudent future proofing”, although there is still not definitive advice on when boosters will be needed.

Meanwhile the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has liberalised its advice on AstraZeneca.

It said in a statement on Saturday all people aged 18 and over in greater Sydney, including those under 60, “should strongly consider getting vaccinated with any available vaccine including COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca”.

This was on the basis of the increasing risk of COVID and “ongoing constraints” of Pfizer, the advice said.

Last week Scott Morrison said the government was constantly appealing to ATAGI to review its advice on AZ according to the balance of risk. Many people have shied away from AZ, supplies of which are plentiful, after ATAGI’s caution about it for younger people because of rare blood clots.

Asked about some general practioners being reluctant to give AZ to people under 40, Morrison said he certainly hoped GPs “would be very mindful of the ATAGI advice”.

ATAGI is presently considering whether children between 12 and 15 years old should be vaccinated against COVID, with the government expecting advice in mid-August.

As the crisis continues in Sydney, on Sunday NSW reported 141 new locally acquired cases and two deaths, including a woman in her 30s. This followed Saturday’s report of 163 new cases in the previous 24 hours.

Victoria on Sunday reported 11 new local cases, and is on track to end its lockdown soon, as is South Australia.

Morrison again stressed the lockdown was the primary weapon in fighting the Sydney outbreak.

“There’s not an easy way to bring these cases down. And it’s the lockdown that does that work. The vaccines can provide some assistance, but they are not going to end this lockdown. What’s going to end this lockdown is it being effective.”

But NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who tried unsuccessfully to get the vaccination program refocused on south west Sydney, the centre of the outbreak, has a different emphasis. “Please know that what will get us through this outbreak is a combination of our restrictions, but also of more people being vaccinated”.

Morrison has refused to alter the focus, saying this would “interrupt the rhythm of the national vaccine program”.

The federal government has found 50,000 extra Pfizer doses for NSW. Asked where these came from, Morrison said: “There are small variations in supply and delivery, which from time to time may ensure that there’s tens of thousands of doses that might be free at any given time.”

Morrison condemned Saturday’s Sydney anti-lockdown demonstration attended by thousands of people, which saw violence, dozens of people charged, and more being pursued where they can be identified.

He said it was not just selfish. “It was also self-defeating. It achieves no purpose. It will not end the lockdown sooner, it will only risk the lockdowns running further,” he said.

Asked about Queensland Nationals MP George Christensen, who attended a rally in Mackay, Morrison said: “As for other parts of the country that aren’t in lockdown, well, there is such a thing as free speech, and I’m not about to be imposing those sorts of restrictions on people’s free speech”.

Christensen said on Facebook, “Civil disobedience eventually becomes the only response to laws that restrict freedom. This is what we’ve seen in Melbourne today.”

Pressed on this, Morrison said: “The comments I made before related to an event that took place in Queensland where there are no lockdowns”.

The Prime Minister told the Liberal National Party state council in a virtual address on Sunday: “After a difficult start, the vaccine program is now making up lost ground, and quickly”.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Coronavirus Update: Australia


The benefits of a COVID vaccine far outweigh the small risk of treatable heart inflammation


Shutterstock

Jonathan Noonan, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and Karlheinz Peter, Baker Heart and Diabetes InstituteRepeated COVID-19 outbreaks in Australia have once again highlighted the need for rapid and widespread vaccination. We are extremely fortunate the global scientific community has been able to develop a handful of highly effective vaccines in such a short time.

As with any vaccine or medicine, the COVID vaccines do carry small risks. The rare blood clotting disorder caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine — thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, or TTS — has largely dominated the headlines.

But we’re also seeing reports of a potentially increased risk of myocarditis and pericarditis (heart inflammation) following the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

Here’s why this shouldn’t be cause for concern.

First, what are myocarditis and pericarditis?

There are three main types of heart inflammation: endocarditis, myocarditis, and pericarditis. These involve inflammation of the inner lining of the heart, the heart muscle, and the outer lining of the heart respectively.

Viruses, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, are the most common cause of myocarditis and pericarditis. Essentially, the inflammation the immune system generates to combat infections can inadvertently lead to inflammation of the heart.

In the very rare cases of myocarditis and pericarditis observed after vaccination with a COVID mRNA shot, it’s possible a similar thing might be happening. That is, the vaccine causes the immune system to generate some level of inflammation so it’s prepared to mount a response against SARS-CoV-2, and this inflammation is partially misdirected to the heart.

But the risk is very small, and the conditions are treatable.

A heart diagram with an inflamed pericardium (pericarditis) next to a heart with inflammation showing myocarditis.

Shutterstock

What’s the risk?

The exact incidence of myocarditis and pericarditis following vaccination is still being defined, and it remains to be proven that mRNA vaccines are truly the cause of these conditions — although it seems likely.

In Australia, of roughly 3.7 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine administered up to July 11, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) reports there have been 50 cases of suspected myocarditis or pericarditis. This suggests a risk of one per 74,000 vaccines. The TGA notes most people who developed these conditions have recovered or are recovering.

However, given the relatively small number of vaccinations administered in Australia, it’s important to consider more complete data from countries with higher vaccination rates.




Read more:
How rare are blood clots after the AstraZeneca vaccine? What should you look out for? And how are they treated?


The United States’ Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had received 1,226 reports of myocarditis following 296 million doses of mRNA vaccines administered up to June 11. This equates to a risk of roughly one in 240,000 doses. These cases were mostly in young men and predominantly occurred after the second dose.

Independently from vaccines, myocarditis occurs in roughly 23 per 100,000 people worldwide per year (we don’t have reliable figures for pericarditis). This shows us there’s a much lower risk from vaccination than exists in the population generally.

Symptoms to look out for

Normal side effects of COVID-19 vaccines include headache, fever, chills, muscle or joint pain, fatigue and nausea.

In contrast, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and light-headedness could indicate myocarditis or pericarditis. Symptoms of these conditions have generally occurred within seven days of vaccination. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should seek medical attention.

In most cases, myocarditis and pericarditis can be successfully treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and corticosteroids.

In Israel, 95% of cases recently investigated were classified as mild. Similarly, the CDC has reported most patients in the US have recovered quickly.

While this very small risk of heart inflammation following vaccination may be alarming, it’s crucial to understand the risk of heart damage following severe COVID-19 is far greater.




Read more:
Explainer: what is inflammation and how does it cause disease?


COVID-19 and heart damage

Damage of the heart muscle is a common consequence of coronavirus. Research shows it occurs in up to 28% of patients hospitalised with COVID-19.

Importantly, the risk of death is markedly higher in COVID-19 patients who sustain heart muscle damage. While we need further research to understand precisely how COVID-19 damages the heart, myocarditis and pericarditis are major causes of the heart damage found in COVID-19 patients.

The benefit outweighs the risk

The recent limits applied to the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in younger age groups suggests the relatively low risk of COVID-19 in Australia justifies being highly selective over vaccine use.

But while Australia has done incredibly well at containing COVID-19, the risk of transmission here remains high given the global COVID-19 situation. We’re seeing this daily as we contend with outbreaks and lockdowns around the country.

Myocarditis and pericarditis are potentially associated with the mRNA vaccines, but these complications are extremely rare, most often mild, and seem to be treatable.

As has been the consistent message from the medical and scientific communities throughout this pandemic, the benefit of COVID-19 vaccines significantly outweighs the risk of rare side effects. This is particularly true for the highly effective mRNA-based vaccines as COVID-19 continues to spread around the world.




Read more:
What are the side effects of the Pfizer vaccine? An expert explains


The Conversation


Jonathan Noonan, Research Officer, Atherothrombosis and Vascular Biology Laboratory, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and Karlheinz Peter, Interventional Cardiologist, Alfred Hospital; Professor of Medicine and Immunology, Monash University; Professor and Head, Department of Cardiometabolic Health, University of Melbourne; Lab Head, Atherothrombosis and Vascular Biology and Deputy Director, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Pfizer doses to be spaced out in NSW crisis, but state fails to get change in vaccination program


AAP/Mick Tsikas

Michelle Grattan, University of CanberraPfizer doses in NSW will be spaced out to enable more first jabs to be administered quickly, as the Berejiklian government on Friday declared the Sydney COVID crisis a “national emergency”.

But the plea by the state for Pfizer doses to be diverted to Sydney as part of a refocusing of the national vaccine program has fallen on deaf ears.

Scott Morrison indicated if any extra Pfizer supplies became available they would be directed to NSW – but he made clear there would be no change in the national vaccination program.

“Where there is a potential to put more vaccines into NSW, even beyond what we’re already doing, well, of course, we will seek to do that. But we are not going to disrupt the vaccination program around the rest of the country,” he said after a meeting of the national cabinet.

Vaccines are distributed on a population basis, although NSW was recently given a special allocation of 300,000 doses, half AstraZeneca and half Pfizer.

Morrison also said suppression was the key immediate means of stopping community transmission and getting on top of the outbreak that is concentrated in south western Sydney. “Suppression is the primary tool to achieve that, and vaccines can help that.”

Earlier, General JJ Frewen, who is in charge of the vaccine rollout, was dismissive of the suggestion supplies be diverted.

“Vaccines are only one part of a response to the outbreak like this,” Frewen told a Senate committee.

Other states made it clear they would not give up any of their Pfizer supplies.

Morrison said extending the time between Pfizer doses – normally three weeks – to six weeks was within the advice of The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). This would be done in NSW vaccination clinics.

He also said there was “agreement amongst the national cabinet that we need to continue to lean in to AstraZeneca, particularly in NSW”.

Australian Medical Association President Dr Omar Khorshid on Friday called on ATAGI to review its advice on AstraZeneca in response to the growing risks posed by the outbreak of the Delta variant in NSW.

“As we don’t have enough Pfizer to use in a targeted rollout, the only option is AstraZeneca. It will save lives and help see life return to some normality in Greater Sydney,” Khorshid said.

ATAGI has preferred Pfizer for those under 60, although it recently qualified its advice in light of the Sydney outbreak.

As NSW on Friday reported 136 new cases in the 24 hours to 8pm Thursday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said “Sydney is on fire with this virus and we need a ring of steel put around Sydney”.

But Morrison said that at national cabinet Berejiklian had spelled out “in very specific detail the extensive lockdown” the state had in place.

“There’s nothing light about the lockdown in NSW – in Sydney, I can assure you. My family are in it,” he said.

At her news conference on Friday morning, Berejiklian said Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant and her team “advised us that the situation that exists now in NSW, namely around south-western and now western Sydney suburbs, is regarded as a national emergency.”

She appealed for the vaccination strategy to be redirected to south western Sydney, particularly to younger people who had to perform essential work such as the production of food.

She said there was a very young population in the affected communities, “and we need at least more first doses of Pfizer.”

Meanwhile, figures given to the Senate COVID committee showed only 47.2% of residential aged care workers had had a first vaccine dose and 27.8% had received their second dose. Vaccination has been made mandatory by September for these workers.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

What if I can’t get in for my second Pfizer dose and the gap is longer than 3 weeks?


Jessica Hill/AP/AAP

Nathan Bartlett, University of NewcastleBookings for the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine have been halted in Victoria this week, amid shortages of the vaccine.

Some Victorians who’ve had their first Pfizer dose already will need to wait six weeks to get their second.

Some people are wondering if it’s OK to get their second Pfizer shot beyond the recommended three week gap between their first and second dose.

And yesterday, the federal government recommended the Pfizer vaccine as the preferred vaccine for people under 60. Previously, it was only recommended for people below 50. This will place even more pressure on our currently limited supply of Pfizer vaccine, and could lead to wait times being longer than three weeks for some.




Read more:
What are the side effects of the Pfizer vaccine? An expert explains


The good news is, you can wait up to 12 weeks between your first and second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. In fact, some preliminary evidence suggests you might get even stronger immunity with a longer wait time.

The only downside is you’re at risk from the virus the longer you wait for your second dose.

So the improved immunity conferred from waiting longer must be weighed against the risk of contracting COVID in the meantime.

You can wait longer than three weeks

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends a minimum of three weeks between the first and second Pfizer dose. However it says this gap can be extended to up to six weeks.

The minimum time to establish immune memory following first exposure to a new vaccine is roughly three weeks. This is the minimum time, but waiting longer between the first and second jab is absolutely fine in terms of efficacy.

This makes sense based on what immunology experts understand about our immune response to vaccines.

By about two weeks after vaccination, adaptive immunity has kicked in. This involves immune cells called T and B cells working together to produce antibodies that target the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, and are able to block infection.

At this stage, some of these become “memory” immune cells, and by about the third week they have established immune memory. This means these virus-recognising cells are on hand to rapidly respond if we are exposed again.

If that exposure is via a second immunisation, this will boost the immune response to the vaccine and increase immune memory, which in turn enhances protection against the virus.




Read more:
How long do COVID vaccines take to start working?


The secondary immune response is faster and bigger because you have a pool of memory immune cells primed and ready to jump into action. The memory response is also faster, so by two weeks after the second jab, protection has significantly increased.

You’re not fully protected against COVID until about seven to 14 days after the second Pfizer dose.

Waiting longer might be even better

Many vaccines confer improved protection with longer gaps between doses, and preliminary data suggests this seems to be the case with Pfizer too.

One pre-print study, yet to be peer reviewed, suggests waiting 11-12 weeks for the second Pfizer dose actually produces an even more potent antibody response in people over 80.

The levels of antibodies in people who waited 12 weeks for their second dose were 3.5 times higher than those whose gap was three weeks.

What are the risks of waiting?

We must remember the level of protection isn’t the only consideration. The time it takes to get there is also important. Delaying the second dose increases the time it takes for you to achieve a high level of immunity, and therefore increases your susceptibility to infection, and risk of COVID.

One dose does provide some protection from severe COVID, but not enough, which means you can still become infected and transmit the virus to others. Preliminary data suggests one Pfizer dose provides only 33% protection against the Delta variant, while two doses confers 88% protection.

However, this risk must be weighed against the risk of contracting COVID in Australia currently. Community outbreaks are relatively contained, so the risk in between doses is not as high as it is during periods of rampant transmission.

In saying that, as we’ve seen from Victoria’s recent lockdown and new cases in Sydney this week, COVID transmission is still smouldering in Australia and we must not let our guard down yet. In this context it’s important everyone who can get vaccinated does, and as soon as possible.The Conversation

Nathan Bartlett, Associate Professor, School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, University of Newcastle

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Can the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines affect my genetic code?


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Archa Fox, The University of Western Australia; Jen Martin, The University of Melbourne, and Traude Beilharz, Monash UniversityThe Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are set to become the mainstay of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout as the year progresses, according to the latest government projections released this week.

From September, up to an average 1.3m doses of the Pfizer vaccine plus another 125,000 doses of the yet-to-be approved Moderna vaccine are expected to be available per week. These figures are set to rise from October, as use of the AstraZeneca vaccine drops.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines, which contain tiny fragments of the genetic material known as “messenger ribonucleic acid”. And if social media is anything to go by, some people are concerned these vaccines can affect their genetic code.

Here’s why the chances of that happening are next to zero and some pointers to how the myth came about.

Remind me, how do mRNA vaccines work?

The technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is a way of giving your cells temporary instructions to make the coronavirus spike protein. This protein is found on the surface of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The vaccines teach your immune system to protect you if you ever encounter the virus.

The mRNA in the vaccine is taken up by the cells in your body, ending up in the liquid inside each cell known as the cytoplasm. Our cells naturally make thousands of our own mRNAs all the time (to code for a range of other proteins). So the vaccine mRNA is just another one. Once the vaccine mRNA is in the cytoplasm it’s used to make the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.

The vaccine mRNA is short-lived and is rapidly broken down after it’s done its job, as happens with all your other mRNA.

Typical mammalian cell, showing different parts, such as nucleus and cytoplasm
Vaccine mRNA is in the cytoplasm and once it’s done its job, it’s broken down.
www.shutterstock.com



Read more:
What is mRNA? The messenger molecule that’s been in every living cell for billions of years is the key ingredient in some COVID-19 vaccines


Here’s why the mRNA can’t insert into your genetic code

Your genetic code is made up of a different, but related, molecule to the vaccine mRNA, known as DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid. And mRNA can’t insert itself into your DNA for two reasons.

One, both molecules have a different chemistry. If mRNAs could routinely insert themselves into your DNA at random, this would play havoc with how you produce proteins. It would also scramble your genome, which is passed on to future cells and generations. Life forms that do this would not survive. That’s why life has evolved for this not to happen.

The second reason is vaccine mRNA and DNA are in two different parts of the cell. Our DNA stays in the nucleus. But vaccine mRNA goes straight to the cytoplasm, never entering the nucleus. There are no transporter molecules we know of that carry mRNA into the nucleus.




Read more:
Not sure about the Pfizer vaccine, now it’s been approved in Australia? You can scratch these 4 concerns straight off your list


But aren’t there some exceptions?

There are some extremely rare exceptions. One is where genetic elements, known as retro-transposons, hijack cellular mRNA, convert it into DNA and insert that DNA back into your genetic material.

This has occurred sporadically throughout evolution, producing some ancient copies of mRNAs scattered throughout our genome, to form so-called pseudogenes.

Some retroviruses, such as HIV, also insert their RNA into our DNA, using similar methods to retro-transposons.

However, there is a vanishingly small chance of a naturally occurring retro-transposon becoming active in a cell that has just received a mRNA vaccine. There’s also a vanishingly small chance of being infected with HIV at precisely the same time as receiving the mRNA vaccine.

Blood sample labelled with HIV - Test
There’s a vanishingly small chance of being infected with HIV at precisely the same time as having an mRNA vaccine.
from www.shutterstock.com

Even if a retro-transposon were to become active or a virus such as HIV were present, the chances of it finding the COVID vaccine mRNA, among the tens of thousands of natural mRNAs, is extremely unlikely. That’s because vaccine mRNA is degraded within several hours of entering the body.

Even if vaccine mRNA did become a pseudogene, it would not produce the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but just one of the viral products, the harmless spike protein.




Read more:
4 things about mRNA COVID vaccines researchers still want to find out


How do we actually know this?

We know of no studies looking for vaccine mRNA in the DNA of people who have been vaccinated. There is no scientific basis on which to suspect this insertion has happened.

However, if these studies were to be carried out, they should be relatively straightforward. That’s because we can now sequence DNA in single cells.

But in reality, it will be very hard to ever satisfy a naysayer who is convinced this genome insertion happens; they can always argue scientists need to look deeper, harder, in different people and in different cells. At some point this argument will need to be laid to rest.

So how did this myth come about?

One study reported evidence for coronavirus RNA integrating into the human genome in cells grown in the lab that had been infected with SARS-CoV-2.

However, that paper did not look at the mRNA vaccine, lacked critical controls and has since been discredited.

These types of studies also need to be seen in context of the public’s wariness of genetic technology more broadly. This includes the public’s concerns about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), for instance, over the past 20 years or so.

But GMOs are different to the mRNA technology used to make COVID vaccines.
Unlike GMOs, which are produced by inserting DNA into the genome, vaccine mRNA will not be in our genes or passed to the next generation. It’s broken down very quickly.

In reality, mRNA technology has all sorts of applications, beyond vaccines, including biosecurity and sustainable agriculture. So it would be a pity for these efforts to be held back by misinformation.




Read more:
Will the COVID vaccine make me test positive for the coronavirus? 5 questions about vaccines and COVID testing answered


The Conversation


Archa Fox, Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow, The University of Western Australia; Jen Martin, Leader, Science Communication Teaching Program, The University of Melbourne, and Traude Beilharz, Assoc Professor ARC Future Fellow, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

What are the side effects of the Pfizer vaccine? An expert explains


Nicholas Wood, University of SydneyAs of Tuesday this week, all Australian adults aged 40-49 are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Some states and territories had already opened up their rollout to under 50s, including Victoria, which invited 40-49-year-olds to come forward from late May in light of the current outbreak. In the Northern Territory, everyone aged over 16 is now eligible, while in Western Australia adults over 30 will be eligible from Thursday.

Most Australians under 50 will receive the Pfizer vaccine, which is the preferred COVID vaccine for people in this age group. This is based on advice from Australia’s Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation around the risk of rare blood clotting disorders following the AstraZeneca vaccine.

To this point, we’ve been quite fixated on the side effects and small risks associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. But with many Australians now lining up for the Pfizer shot, let’s take a look at what we know about side effects and rare adverse events after this vaccine.

We’re monitoring the safety of the Pfizer vaccine in real time

In Australia the Pfizer vaccine is registered for use in people over 16. Two doses are needed, with a gap of at least three weeks between doses.

This vaccine has now been administered to many millions of people around the world. We know a lot about its safety from both clinical trials and safety surveillance programs in the community.

AusVaxSafety has been collecting and regularly updating vaccine safety data from Australians who have received a COVID vaccine, either Pfizer or AstraZeneca.

As of May 30, more than 245,000 people had responded to text message or email questionnaires on side effects after their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and over 140,000 people had responded after dose two.

Close to two-thirds of people reported no reactions after the first dose, and 40% reported no reactions after the second.

The most common side effects include headache, muscle aches and fatigue, and these are more common after dose two compared to dose one.



These sorts of side effects are very similar to those reported in clinical trials and what’s been set out in the Pfizer vaccine’s product information. They occur because our immune system is responding to the vaccine.

Side effects will usually present in the first 24-48 hours after vaccination. We know from AusVaxSafety surveillance and safety data from overseas they usually last less than two to three days, and nearly everyone who experiences side effects is back to normal one week after vaccination.

You can manage symptoms such as pain or fever with medicines like paracetamol or ibuprofen. But if your symptoms persist or get worse, you should see your GP.




Read more:
We’re gathering data on COVID vaccine side effects in real time. Here’s what you can expect


What about allergic reactions?

There have been reports of anaphylaxis after the Pfizer vaccine. Anaphylaxis is an acute allergic reaction where people experience a rash, lip and tongue swelling, trouble breathing and sometimes shock (low blood pressure and fast heart rate).

Overall it’s estimated anaphylaxis occurs in approximately five people per million doses of the Pfizer vaccine administered. Anaphylaxis nearly always happens in the first 15 minutes to half hour after vaccination, which is why people are asked to wait in the clinic after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

Anaphylaxis is easily treated (reversed) with an injection of adrenaline by nursing and medical staff at the vaccination centres, and people affected generally make a complete recovery.

If you happen to have had an acute allergic reaction after vaccination, it’s important you tell your doctor before getting a second dose of the same vaccine. You may be referred for a specialist allergy consultation.

Myocarditis and pericarditis

Recently there have been reports from overseas, including the United States and Israel, of myocarditis (heart inflammation) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart) following vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine.

The US Centres for Disease Control notes these cases have been mostly in younger males (aged 16 years and older), usually appear within several days of vaccination, and are more common after the second dose.

However, no causal link has been formally established. It’s important to note heart inflammation can be caused by many factors. These include infections, particularly from viruses or bacteria; or damage to the heart’s tissue or muscle as a result of autoimmune diseases, medicines, environmental factors, or other triggers, including, rarely, vaccines.




Read more:
How do we know the COVID vaccine won’t have long-term side-effects?


The COVID-19 subcommittee of the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety is also reviewing this issue. They have noted that in most of the reported cases, the people have recovered.

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, meanwhile, is continuing to monitor myocarditis and pericarditis as “adverse events of special interest”.

Rigorous studies where we compare the number of myocarditis cases in vaccinated and unvaccinated populations are underway in countries such as Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States to assess whether there is any link between myocarditis and the Pfizer vaccine.

But at this stage, there’s no significant cause for concern.

The benefits outweigh any risks

Real-world studies are showing the Pfizer vaccine has clear benefits in reducing deaths and hospitalisations due to COVID-19.

As we’re seeing right now in Victoria, community outbreaks continue to pose a significant risk. Our path out of this pandemic relies on a high uptake of vaccines, and use of the highly effective Pfizer vaccine is key.The Conversation

Nicholas Wood, Associate Professor, Discipline of Childhood and Adolescent Health, University of Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.