Confused about the AstraZeneca vaccine, and having a hard time assessing your risk? Peter Wu, pharmacist at Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy, is here to help.
“There have been so many changes, conflicting reports and misconceptions — it’s hard for the average person to keep up,” he says.
Peter, fellow pharmacist Michelle Gray and the rest of the staff at Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy are happy to answer your questions.
Peter says his parents even called to ask him for advice.
“Like many people, they had some vaccine hesitancy. So we talked through their personal risks.”
Peter’s mom works on the front line in manufacturing, and in her age group the fatality rate from COVID-19 is about three per cent. The risk of death from COVID-19 is much greater than the risk of death from blood clots caused by the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is estimated to be one-in-a-million. Peter’s dad works from home, so he wanted to wait for a different brand of vaccine type. But Peter explained that his risk of contracting COVID-19 is still very high, through his contact with his wife. He also has a previous condition, which means there’s a greater chance he’ll have lingering complications which would seriously impact his quality of life.
Peter says in the end, they both decided to sign up for the AstraZeneca vaccine, and nothing bad has happened.
“I told my mom the most dangerous part of the process is driving to the pharmacy for the injection.”
COVID-19 and the AstraZeneca vaccine: 3 things to consider
- AstraZeneca is just as effective as Moderna and Pfizer at preventing severe illness from the original virus: “After you have both doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine you’re 100 per cent protected against severe illness from the original COVID-19 virus. You may still catch the virus, but you’ll only have mild symptoms and won’t have to go to the ICU,” Peter says. “Even after one shot there’s quite a bit of protection.” Peter has also been following research which suggests the AstraZeneca vaccine, like the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, is at least partially effective against variants.
- The blood clot risk is extremely low and overall the benefit is very high: “The UK has administered over 22 million doses of AstraZeneca, and have only reported about 30 cases of blood clots. That’s a one-in-a-million risk, and if you catch it early the survival rate is very good.” One should examine the COVID trend in England, where 50% of the population have received at least one dose compared to 29% in Canada. England is not experiencing a third wave like Canada, and in fact, their daily rolling average is decreasing. See graph below for best illustration.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are extremely serious:“It’s important to weigh your personal risk. If you’re concerned about blood clots, you have a much greater risk of contracting a blood clot from COVID-19 than you do from the AstraZeneca vaccine. At some nursing homes, we have a powerful blood thinner on standby in case an outbreak occurs, because COVID-induced blood clots are so common,” Peter says. “The other symptoms of COVID-19 are no joke either. Your lungs may not fully recover — I know one patient who was previously very fit, running half-marathons, who still gets out-of-breath walking around the block. COVID-19 can cause inflammation of the soft tissue surrounding the heart. A young patient was put on a pacemaker after contracting COVID at work. It can also cause severe neurological and psychological damage — even months after contracting COVID-19 many people find it harder to focus, suffer from short-term memory loss, or have increased depression or anxiety.”
Find Gray’s Compounding Pharmacy at 417B-304 St. in Kimberley, open Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m or on Facebook at facebook.com/grayspharmacy. Questions? Call 250-427-0038 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.