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Fall Covid Booster and Side Effects: What You Need to Know

fall covid booster

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the world, and the development of vaccines has been a beacon of hope in these challenging times. However, vaccine hesitancy, particularly concerning side effects and safety, has emerged as a significant hurdle in achieving herd immunity. This article aims to shed light on these concerns, with a special focus on the impression that COVID-19 vaccines cause blood clots.

With a large portion of Americans looking at a possible third Covid booster shot this fall, it is important to examine the research and updated information regarding the Covid vaccines and blood clots.

As of the latest available data in the U.S. (October 2022), unvaccinated persons were 29 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who were vaccinated with an updated booster.

What Does the Latest Research Say About Covid Vaccines & Blood Clots

Research spearheaded by the University at Buffalo has debunked the assertions made by vaccine skeptics, affirming that the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), or blood clots, from COVID-19 vaccines is minimal. Furthermore, the study highlighted that contracting COVID-19 significantly increases the risk of developing blood clots.

Study found excess risk of blood clots was 1.4 cases per 1 million people vaccinated, far fewer than cases caused by COVID-19 – University of Buffalo

The University at Buffalo study has found that COVID-19 infection significantly increases the risk of blood clots. The research, which analyzed data from over a million people, found that the rate of VTE in vaccinated individuals was only 0.1% higher than the baseline rate in unvaccinated people. The study’s lead author, Dr. Peter L. Elkin, emphasized that the risk-benefit ratio strongly favors vaccination given the substantial risk of VTE from COVID-19 infection.

“Given the fact that the rate of VTE with COVID-19 is several orders of magnitude greater than the trivial risk from vaccination, our study reinforces the safety and importance of staying current with COVID 19 vaccinations. ” Peter L. Elkin, MD, Professor and chair, Department of Biomedical Informatics

Other studies also show that the risk of developing blood clots from the COVID-19 vaccines is exceedingly low. For instance, in the UK, the estimated incidence of these rare blood clots is approximately 10 per million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. In contrast, the risk of developing blood clots from COVID-19 disease is significantly higher. A study published in the British Journal of Haematology found that the risk of blood clots is about 100 times greater for people with COVID-19 than for those without.

Additionally, a large study by the University of Oxford found that the risk of experiencing the uncommon blood clotting condition known as cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) after contracting COVID-19 is approximately 100 times higher than usual and that the risk is notably higher than that associated with post-vaccination or after contracting the flu.

The Oxford study looked at how often CVT, a type of blood clot, happened in people who had COVID-19 and compared it to how often it happened in people who got a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • In this study of over 500,000 COVID-19 patients, CVT occurred in 39 in a million patients.
  • In over 480,000 people receiving a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), CVT occurred in 4 in a million.
  • CVT has been reported to occur in about 5 in a million people after first dose of the AZ-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Compared to the mRNA vaccines, the risk of a CVT from COVID-19 is about 10 times greater.
  • Compared to the AZ-Oxford vaccine, the risk of a CVT from COVID-19 is about 8 times greater.

Covid Vaccines: Common Side Effects

While most people won’t experience significant side effects from the vaccine, milder side effects are quite common. Studies show that the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines are generally mild and short-lived. Severe side effects are rare, and the benefits of getting vaccinated far outweigh the risks.

Common side effects after receiving the first dosage of COVID-19 vaccine include:

  • 63.7% injection site tenderness,
  • 54.2% injection site pain
  • 53.1% fatigue
  • nearly 52.6% experience headache,
  • 44.2% malaise,
  • 44.0% myalgia,
  • about 33.6% pyrexia and feverishness, and
  • 7.9% fever >38 °C
  • source: National Library of Medicine

Covid Vaccines & Blood Clots: The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The impression that COVID-19 vaccines cause blood clots has been a significant concern. This concern primarily stems from reports of rare cases of blood clots associated with the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. However, it’s essential to put these reports into perspective and note that the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine is no longer available in the U.S. In May 2023, existing doses of the J&J vaccine expired and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) directed providers to dispose of any that had gone unused.

The condition known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) is a rare side effect associated with the J&J vaccine. An updated safety review revealed that as of March 18th, among over 18 million individuals who received the J&J vaccine, 60 instances of TTS were reported, resulting in nine fatalities. This analysis was based on potential TTS cases reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) run by the government.

The demographic most at risk appears to be women aged 30 to 49, with an incidence rate of 1 in 100,000. Despite this, the J&J vaccine continues to be available in some countries. The FDA maintains that the risks posed by the virus far outweigh the risks associated with the J&J vaccine, as stated in their updated fact sheet.

If you have received the J&J vaccine, your likelihood of developing TTS is considered to be low. It’s also important to note the timing of these cases; all were identified within two weeks of the individual receiving the vaccine.

While it’s natural to have concerns about new vaccines, it’s essential to base our decisions on scientific evidence. The COVID-19 vaccines have undergone rigorous testing and continue to be monitored for safety. The risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 far outweighs the rare risks associated with the vaccines.

As of now, the U.S. has registered approximately 48 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 68,000 fatalities among individuals aged 18 to 49. Even considering the possibility of higher actual infection rates, the risk of death from COVID-19 is hundreds of times greater than the risk of developing blood clots from the vaccines. Research further indicates that the occurrence of blood clots in individuals infected with COVID-19 is significantly higher compared to the general populace and far exceeds the incidence associated with vaccination.

Vaccination remains our best defense against the virus, and we must continue to combat misinformation and address valid concerns to overcome vaccine hesitancy.

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