by Curlan Campbell
- Only 14,804 first doses of AstraZeneca vaccine administered as at 14 May
- Expiry date of 27 June for the last batch of AstraZeneca is fast approaching
- Every year at least 50 people are admitted to the General Hospital for blood clot complications
AstraZeneca blood clotting fears continue to be blown out of proportion says Grenada’s Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Epidemiologist Dr Shawn Charles. This reality has certainly affected the country’s vaccination rate with just only 14,804 first doses and 6,614 second doses of AstraZeneca vaccine administered as at 14 May.
According to experts, the absolute risk of death by clotting after taking the AstraZeneca vaccine is about one in a million. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) states just over 10 people develop a rare blood clot condition for every million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine given. This is seen more often in younger people and tends to occur between 4 days and 4 weeks following vaccination.
But despite their findings, Dr Charles while any reported causes of blood clot are cause for concern, he believes the fear of blood clotting as a result of the vaccine has created mass hysteria leading to the island falling behind the other Caribbean islands.
“In very rare instances a particular blood clot was seen, one case in 250,000 people following vaccination and of course it is cause for concern, but it has not been directly linked to the vaccine, but it was seen following vaccination and so it is one of those things we have to look at but it does not mean that the vaccine is unsafe,” Dr Charles said.
In delivering his presentation this morning to major tourism stakeholders, Dr Charles provided the statistics that help show that hospital admittance as a result of blood clots have been prevalent in Grenada prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. He stated that every year at least 50 people are admitted to the General Hospital for blood clot complications. In 2016, he said there were 56 admissions and in 2017, 53 patients were admitted for blood clots. Every year he said over 25 are admitted for blood clots in the lungs. In 2016 there were 30 such cases and in 2017 26 cases were recorded. Based on those statistics he said it is unfair to lay the blame solely on the AstraZeneca vaccine which is Grenada’s only hope to return to a sense of normalcy.
“If [people] are still on the fence, if you wait then that decision will be made for you to your detriment because that day may come when you come to the realisation that I really need this vaccine and that day might be too late because it may not be available. It is extremely difficult to get our hands on vaccines right now,” Dr Charles said.
Dr Charles also brought home the need for the general public to utilise the opportunity to be vaccinated while there is still time since the expiry date of 27 June, for the last batch of AstraZeneca is fast approaching. “Unfortunately, we live very far away from the manufacturing sites so it takes around 3 months between packaging and shipping before it lands here so when it lands in Grenada, we have about 3 months to use them and that date for us is the 27th of June… and we do not have a date when we will get more,” he said.
The call for Grenadians to get vaccinated comes days after the release of the Ministry’s weekly Epidemiology report, which saw that in week 16 of this year, there were 26 Acute Respiratory Infection cases. In week 17, there were 46 cases, and that number jumped to 133 in week 18. Dr Charles appeals to citizens to get vaccinated and to follow the public health protocols.
Dr Charles appeals to citizens to get vaccinated and to also follow the public health protocols.