Top 3 questions about the COVID-19 vaccine – Pfizer for 12-15 years, symptoms of TTS, Pfizer risks and PCR tests
Hello and welcome to today’s Top Three. My name is Michael Kidd, Deputy Chief Medical Officer here at the Department of Health in Canberra and joined by my good friend Linda. My thanks go out today to all who engage on social media with the Australian Department of Health through these videos that we post on Facebook, through your interaction with our website, health.gov.au , and a special thank you to all. that sends questions to which you would like to be answered. Our goal is to answer your questions and provide you with accurate, reliable and up-to-date information that you can trust, and at the same time, to dispel all the myths that are circulating about COVID-19, so thank you for working with us. on this important task, please share these public health messages with your friends, family and social media networks. Today is a treat. Instead of a Top Three, I’m going to provide you with a Top Four, your top four questions for the past week.
The first question is, why can my child now receive the Pfizer vaccine if he is between 12 and 15 years old?
As you may be aware, the Pfizer vaccine was originally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, our national drug and vaccine regulatory body, for use in people 16 years of age and older in Australia. However, we are following very closely research overseas and in Australia on the safe use of these vaccines in children. As a result, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 15. This information is then reviewed by ATAGI, the Australian Immunization Technical Advisory Group, national experts on the safe and appropriate use of vaccines by the Australian population. ATAGI recommended that starting August 9, we make the Pfizer vaccine available as a priority to children aged 12 to 15 in three categories. The first concerns children with significant chronic health conditions which, if infected with COVID-19, would put them at increased risk of serious illness. There is a list on the health.gov.au website of these conditions, but they include severe asthma, diabetes, obesity, children with congenital heart and circulatory abnormalities, children with developmental disabilities neurologic, immunocompromised children, and children with Down’s syndrome. This list of conditions can be found on the health.gov.au website. The second group of children are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 12 to 15. All Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders aged 12 and over as of August 9 can access COVID-19 vaccines and for children, this is the Pfizer vaccine. The third group are children living in remote communities. We distributed the vaccine to the most remote communities in Australia and we vaccinated everyone in the community at the same time. So now that will include children between the ages of 12 and 15, and a big thank you to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the others who provide this service to Australians living in remote areas. A reminder if you have questions or are unsure if you or a family member is currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, please see the vaccine eligibility checker at health.gov.au.
Our second question today is what symptoms of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia should I look for after the AstraZeneca vaccine?
There has been a lot of talk in the media about the very, very small risk of blood clots after the AstraZeneca vaccine and I know some people have been hesitant to get the AstraZeneca vaccine because of these reports. It is very important that if after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine you know what the possible symptoms of this very rare syndrome are, so if you experience any of these symptoms you can consult your trusted doctor or go to the hospital. hospital, get a quick test and we can determine whether or not you may have this condition. What are the possible symptoms? First, it’s not unusual after either COVID-19 vaccine to have symptoms for a few days. Symptoms of fever, fatigue, muscle aches or headache. This is self-limiting, usually does not last more than 24 to 48 hours, and the symptoms are not severe. However, if you develop a particularly persistent and persistent headache, especially from four days or more after your vaccine, this may be an indication of this rare syndrome. These headaches that we now experience initially may respond to simple pain relievers like paracetamol or ibuprofen, but the headaches are persistent, they occur every day, and the headaches may be associated with other worrisome symptoms. . You may experience shortness of breath, symptoms which may indicate that things are going on inside your head, for example, blurred vision, difficulty speaking. You can develop very small blood spots, a rash, on your skin, far from the injection site. You may experience unusual and persistent pain in your stomach, abdomen, so there are a number of symptoms. We have a fact sheet on this on the Australian Department of Health website for you to check out. If you have any of these symptoms and see your doctor, pharmacist or other healthcare professional, please tell them that you have recently been vaccinated against COVID-19 so that they are especially vigilant in examining you and make sure you are okay. As long as we know these symptoms, then we know that people can be treated for this disease. We know a lot more about the treatment for this condition than we did at the beginning of the year, so please, if you experience these unusual or persistent symptoms of headache or abdominal pain, please consult your local medical advisor. confidence. Like I said, all the information can be found on the health.gov.au website.
The third question concerns a possible new side effect of the Pfizer vaccine which is called myocarditis or pericarditis. And your question is is there a risk of developing this syndrome?
So just as we can very rarely see people developing thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, coagulation with the AstraZeneca vaccine, we now know that there is a very, very small risk of developing a condition called myocarditis or pericarditis afterwards. the Pfizer vaccine, and this has been seen especially abroad in men under 30 and it has also been seen after the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Myocarditis is a condition that often occurs after viral infections, including infection with COVID-19, and it is much, much rarer for it to occur after the Pfizer vaccine. Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle, pericarditis is inflammation of the tissue around the heart, and if you develop any of these conditions you may have symptoms of an irregular heartbeat, which we let’s call it palpitations, you may have chest pain, you may have shortness of breath, you may feel dizzy. So again, if you develop any of these symptoms, please see your doctor or have someone take you to the emergency department and be sure to let the doctors and nurses know that you have received an emergency. recent COVID-19 vaccine. We have very good treatments for this condition and it is usually mild and usually self-limiting. Again, it is very important if it is your turn to get the vaccine, that you get the vaccine, but that you are aware of these possible and very rare side effects. And of course our consistent message is the really important message that if you have flu or fever symptoms or other respiratory symptoms, you are arranging to get tested for COVID-19.
Our fourth question today is whether the PCR test, the polymerase chain reaction test, is unreliable? I heard this report. Is it true?
The answer to this is simple. The answer is no, it is not. The PCR test is very reliable. The PCR test is our gold standard for detecting COVID-19. This is the test that is done when you have the swab at the back of your nose and at the back of your throat and the swab is sent to the lab and looking for evidence of the presence of the COVID-19 virus or fragments of the virus in people who have been infected and are now recovering. These tests are very accurate, which is why they are used as a benchmark test in Australia. There is a bit of confusion because we see in the media a discussion of other tests for COVID-19, including tests called rapid antigen tests, which are not as accurate as PCR tests, but they do. provide a faster result and it may well be that we are seeing more use of rapid antigenic tests as more and more people have been vaccinated in Australia and as our country starts to open up. But for now, the benchmark test remains the PCR test. Again, if you have other symptoms that we have been talking about so much, cold or fever or flu, isolate yourself, organize a PCR test and so you can protect your health, the health and well-being of your family members. . and other loved ones and the community at large. We are very concerned about the Delta variant of COVID-19. What we are seeing is that people are getting sicker faster and we are also seeing younger people who are infected with COVID-19, the Delta variant, so please if you have any symptoms fix it. you to get tested and that way we are all working together to protect our entire nation.
This is our Top four for today. A big thank you to my interpreter, Linda, and a big thank you to you for your participation. Thank you.