MANILA — Some 1,000 health workers have reported minor side effects after inoculations against COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday, as the government races to vaccinate more health and essential workers.
Philippines has so far vaccinated 114,615 health workers as of March 10, and "a total of 978 suspected adverse events" have been reported after immunization, said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
“Dito sa 978, (a total of) 892 are from the CoronaVac or from the Sinovac,” she added.
Majority or 872 of those side effects that happened after the use of Sinovac vaccines are “non-serious” while 20 cases are considered serious Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFIs).
For AstraZeneca, 85 recipients reported minor adverse events following immunization, and only one reported a serious side effect, Vergeire said.
Among the common mild effects reported were muscle pain, pain on the injection site, body pains, fever and rashes, she said.
Vergeire added that some of the patients who experienced these were given medicine and immediately recovered and went home. All were observed for 15 or 30 minutes after vaccination for possible side effects.
“Usual lang po yan. Hindi po dapat ikatakot,” Vergeire said, adding that these are the same side effects experienced by children who are vaccinated.
(These are usual side effects and should not be a cause of fear.)
“Meron pong mga serious side effects or adverse events na mga nangyayari kung saan ang mga kababayan natin yung iba nahihirapang huminga. Yung iba ay may sumakit ang dibdib. Ito po ay kinoconsider natin na serious at pinag-aaralan po kung ano ang causality nito,” she said.
(There are also serious side effects of adverse events that happened where some of our patients had trouble breathing. There were some who had chest pains. These are considered serious and we are studying the cause.)
Vergeire said the head of the National Adverse Events Following Immunization Committee or NAEFIC believes that some of the reported cases can be attributed to anxiety.
“Alam niyo po yung takot ng ating mga kababayan pag magpapabakuna. Baka sila magkaside effect o natakot sa karayom,” she said.
(You know how some Filipinos are scared of being vaccinated. Maybe they are also scared of having side effects or they are scared of the needle.)
The World Health Organization defines AEFI as “any untoward medical occurrence which follows immunization and which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of the vaccine.”
In the WHO’s Global Manual on Surveillance of Adverse Events Following Immunization, there are different categorizations of AEFI. This includes vaccine product-related reaction, vaccine quality defect, immunization error, immunization anxiety, and coincidental events.
The Philippines has received 600,000 Sinovac doses as a donation from China. It also received 525,600 AstraZeneca doses from the vaccine-sharing initiative COVAX Facility.