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Fenland doctors act to reassure patients over vaccination worries

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Doctors at Fenland GP practices have posted a lengthy post to reassure patients amid concerns raised by other countries on the Astra-Zeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

Medics from the six practices in the March and Chatteris areas who are helping to run the Doddington Vaccination Centre have posted to their centre's Facebook page to offer the following reassurance.

"Firstly, your doctors are really concerned about the hysterical press coverage and behaviour of other countries in Europe, about the safety of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine.

Pictured is MP Steve Barclay with Dr simon Hambling at the Doddington Vaccination Centre. Photo: doddington Vaccination Centre. (45207977)
Pictured is MP Steve Barclay with Dr simon Hambling at the Doddington Vaccination Centre. Photo: doddington Vaccination Centre. (45207977)

"A few facts: The UK has delivered 10 million AZ vaccines so far. This vaccination campaign has been the most controlled and scrutinised campaign in the history of the country, mainly because it involves the mass use of a product which has been developed in the shortest period in the history of medicine.

"The pandemic has driven the speed of development. So far there has been NO observable increase in the number of people developing blood clots in the UK. By contrast the Irish Republic has given 110,000 vaccines, seen no problems and suspended its use. Germany, France and Italy have jumped on the bandwagon, having complained loudly that they had not been given the vaccine to use.

"What is Pulmonary Embolus and why does it matter? Well a pulmonary embolus occurs when the blood clots in the veins (often in the leg, but not always) and then breaks off and travels to the lungs, where it obstructs the blood flow. Pulmonary embolus occurs naturally, the main risk factors are: age, immobility, obesity, underlying cancer and clotting disorders (not a comprehensive list). So this problem occurs and is common. There has been no proof from Denmark that the vaccine caused the pulmonary emboli in three people who have suffered them, nor any indication as to whether any of the patients had other potential causes.

"To have made the decision to suspend administration on these grounds is frankly ridiculous. For several major European countries to follow suit is frankly farcical. Maybe they are just jealous that the UK has managed to give 22million people vaccines, whereas Germany has managed only five million.

"The UK is very lucky to have a very robust reporting system for adverse reactions to vaccines (currently being done separately to general reporting), and thus far we have had two significant events after vaccination, although probably neither were directly related to the vaccine, one each for Pfizer and AZ.

"Both patients are fine now. The MHRA, NHSE and Department of Health are working very hard to identify any early problems, and so far there are none.

"Should you be worried? In a word NO. We in Cambridgeshire alone have administered more AZ vaccine than Ireland and Denmark put together, and we have seen NO problems.

"We very much want you to keep coming in your droves to get vaccinated, because if we all get a vaccine, life in the UK can return to normal, although we may have to accept that foreign travel is off the agenda for a while yet, until our friends abroad get there act together.

"On a more positive note. Our vaccination campaign has been so successful, we are now inviting all over 50s (cohort 9). Do not worry if your invite has not come yet, we only invite so many patients at a time, to match vaccine supply.

"Having said that there are 2,000 in the fridge ready to go, and 2,000 more arriving next Monday. All first vaccines will be AZ, there is no more Pfizer coming, except to do second vaccinations for those who had that one first, which leads on to:

"We are setting up clinics for those cohort 2 patients (over 80) to have their second vaccines, these will start week beginning April 5. We will contact you, but please respond as soon as you get your invite. We will push out the invites in roughly the same order as we did the initial vaccinations, so if you had yours in week 2 in January, your second vaccine will be done second week of this campaign too.

"Finally, the six practices that make up our two Primary Care Networks have met today (Tuesday), and we are very pleased to announce that we will be delivering vaccines to cohorts 10, 11 and 12, ie everyone aged 18-50. We will do this in collaboration with mass vaccination centres and pharmacies, but we will be another option.

"We are planning how to do this, but we will concentrate on doing these in the evenings and a weekends, as we know many of this group have work to go too! More on this later, when we have had a chance to actually work out how we can do this.

"Stay safe everyone, vaccinated or not, social distancing and hand hygiene is still vital to stop the spread of this virus, and that will save lives."

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