The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Friday, May 7, the official resumption of using the AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in the country.
Last April 8, the DOH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca vaccines for individuals below 60 years old, following reports of rare cases of Vaccine-Induced Thrombosis and Thrombocytopenia (VITT) in some countries.
“After discussions with the DOH All Experts Group and the Philippine College of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine (PCHTM), it was concluded that there are currently no known risk factors for VITT and that the benefits of receiving the vaccine against COVID-19 still outweighs the risk. However, specific guidelines and measures will still be enforced so that the risks can be mitigated,” the DOH said in a statement.
The DOH said updated guidelines on the management of adverse events following immunization (AEFI), particularly for VITT were already released by the PCHTM.
“Based on the guidelines, all vaccination sites should have a strengthened post-vaccination surveillance to spot possible AEFI. Further, all healthcare workers in vaccination sites will be trained to detect and manage possible symptoms of VITT and refer them accordingly to the appropriate health facility for definitive work-up and management,” the DOH said.
According to the DOH, the VITT is a “very rare condition of blood clots associated with low platelet counts that can occur four to 28 days after receiving a viral vector vaccine such as AstraZeneca.”
In the Philippines, no cases of VITT have been confirmed yet by the National Adverse Events Following Immunization Committee (NAEFIC) and the FDA.
The DOH said that “the resumption and issuance of the guideline is timely as two million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine are expected to arrive in the country this month.”