MANILA - The Philippine government on Monday launched its COVID-19 vaccination drive, boosting its battle against the outbreak that has infected more than half a million people.
Medical workers, soldiers and police in the capital region, the country's epicenter of the crisis, were among the first to be administered with the CoronaVac vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech.
During the first day of the government's immunization program, health authorities recorded 13 cases of "minor" adverse effects, which include pain at the site of injection, nausea, and itching.
Despite low public confidence in vaccines, health officials have repeatedly allayed concerns that adverse reactions could occur as part of the immune response.
In its global manual on surveillance of adverse events following immunization, the World Health Organization classified the reaction into 5 categories - vaccine product-related reaction; vaccine quality defect-related reaction; immunization error-related reaction; immunization anxiety-related reaction and coincidental event.
For vaccine reaction, the UN's health agency refers it as an individual’s response to the inherent properties of the vaccine, "even when the vaccine has been prepared, handled and administered correctly."
Some minor reactions of the vaccine include pain, swelling or redness at the site of injection; fever, malaise, muscle pain, headache or loss of appetite.
For severe reactions, the WHO said it "usually do not result in long-term problems" and "are rarely life-threatening."
Meanwhile, immunization error-related reaction refers to errors in vaccine preparation, handling, storage or administration. Among the errors identified by WHO are non-sterile injection, reconstitution error, injection at incorrect site and vaccine transported or stored incorrectly.
WHO noted that during vaccinations, those inoculated may sometimes experience anxiety-related reactions due to fear of the injection. These are fainting, vomiting, hyperventilation and convulsions.
On the other hand, coincidental events occur "after a vaccination has been given but are not caused by the vaccine or its administration," the agency said.
COMMON SIDE EFFECTS
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also listed these common side effects after getting the COVID-19 shots: pain or swelling at the injection site; fever, chills, tiredness and headache.
"If you have pain or discomfort, talk to your doctor about taking over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, antihistamines, or acetaminophen, for any pain and discomfort you may experience after getting vaccinated," the agency said in an advisory.
"You can take these medications to relieve post-vaccination side effects if you have no other medical reasons that prevent you from taking these medications normally," it added.
However, the US CDC does not recommend taking the medicines before vaccination for the purpose of trying to prevent side effects "because it is not known how these medications may impact how well the vaccine works."
Those who got the COVID-19 vaccine may also apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth to reduce pain and discomfort where they got the shot.
The US CDC also advised drinking plenty of fluids and dressing lightly to reduce discomfort from fever.
"In most cases, discomfort from fever or pain is normal," it said. Only seek the help of authorities if the side effects are "worrying" or "do not seem to be going away after a few days".