First surprise: the differences are minimal by scrolling through the package leaflet of the anti Covid vaccines Pfizer, AstraZeneca (both already in use in Italy) and JnJ which is about to land in our country (April 20 should start administration in pharmacies in Rome and Lazio ). Second surprise: adverse events are divided according to the frequency with which they occurred and, not only AstraZeneca specifies that the person who administers the vaccine must be reminded if there are blood clotting problems (even when you are not sure you have them or less). The Anglo-Swedish vaccine AstraZeneca in its leaflet inserts a specific paragraph on blood disorders: it not only signals the issue of clots but also a possible opposite problem, namely that of excessive bleeding.
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The leaflets, we said, are almost identical. The macroscopic difference is that Johnson is the only single-dose serum, the other two need a remote booster. AstraZeneca has a second injection 4 to 12 weeks after the first injection. Pfizer calculates the second dose of the same vaccine 3 weeks after the first dose to complete the vaccination course.
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The three Covid vaccines are all presented in the same way. AstraZeneca and Johnson describe it as a vaccine that “stimulates the body’s natural defenses (the immune system) to produce antibodies and specialized white blood cells that act against the virus, thus providing protection against COVID-19. None of the components of this vaccine can cause COVID-19 ». Pfizer presents it as a vaccine that “induces the immune system (the body’s natural defenses) to produce antibodies and active blood cells against the virus, thus conferring protection against Covid-19”. For all three, we read that the duration of protection from the coronavirus is not known. The AstraZeneca leaflet states that “there are currently limited data available on efficacy in individuals aged 55 and over”.
Both Johnson and AstraZeneca recommend that you check with your doctor, pharmacist or nurse before receiving the vaccine in these cases:
– if you have had a severe allergic reaction after injecting any other vaccine,
– if you fainted after any needle injection
– if you have a severe infection with a high fever (more than 38 ° C). However, you can get the vaccination if you have a mild fever or a mild upper respiratory infection such as a cold,
– if you have problems with bleeding or bruising spontaneously or if you are taking an anticoagulant medicine (to prevent blood clots),
– if your immune system is not working as it should (immunodeficiency) or if you are taking medicines that weaken the immune system (such as high-dose corticosteroids, immunosuppressants or anticancer medicines).
Pfizer recommends that you tell your doctor, pharmacist or nurse before receiving the vaccine in essentially the same cases mentioned above:
– have had a severe allergic reaction or breathing problems after injecting another vaccine or after receiving Comirnaty in the past;
– passed out after an injection;
– have a severe illness or infection with a high fever. However, if you have a mild fever or an upper respiratory infection (such as a cold) you may still receive the vaccination;
– have a bleeding problem, a tendency to bruise, or if you use medicines to prevent blood clots;
– have a weakened immune system due to a disease such as HIV infection or medicines that affect the immune system, such as corticosteroids.
The question of age
Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) is given to adults aged 18 and over. Comirnaty (Pfizer) is not recommended for children under the age of 16. AstraZeneca is not recommended for children under 18 years of age. At present, insufficient information is available on use in children and adolescents below 18 years of age.
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The possible side effects are similar for all three vaccines. Let’s see how they are reported in the package leaflets.
Very common adverse events with Pfizer are at the injection site: pain, swelling, but also fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, fever. Common side effects: are redness at the injection site and nausea. Uncommon side effects may be swollen lymph nodes, feeling unwell, pain in the limbs, insomnia and even itching at the injection site. Among the rare side effects we note the temporary asymmetry of one side of the face. Among the unknown reactions (i.e. frequency cannot be estimated from the available data) is severe allergic reaction.
For AstraZeneca the following are reported: possible feeling faint or lightheaded, changes in heart rate, shortness of breath, wheezing, swelling of the lips, face or throat, hives or rash, nausea or vomiting, stomach pain. Very common side effects are pain, warmth, itching or bruising where the injection is given, feeling tired (fatigue) or generally feeling unwell, chills or feeling feverish, headache, feeling unwell (nausea), joint pain or muscle pain. Among the common ones is dysentery. Uncommon include: sleepiness or dizziness, including decreased appetite, swollen lymph nodes, excessive sweating, itching or rash.
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The thrombosis node
The European Medicines Agency reiterated that the link between thrombosis and the AstraZeneca vaccine is currently not proven. In the leaflet about blood disorders it says: «A combination of blood clots and low platelet levels has been observed very rarely following vaccination with AstraZeneca, in some cases with bleeding. In some severe cases, blood clots have occurred in different or unusual locations as well as excessive clotting or bleeding throughout the body. Most of these cases occurred within the first seven to fourteen days after vaccination and occurred mainly in women under 55 years of age. However, more women under 55 have received the vaccine than other people. Some cases have been fatal. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, or persistent abdominal pain after vaccination. Also, see a doctor immediately if, after a few days, severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision occur after vaccination, or if bruises or round patches appear on the skin somewhere other than the vaccination site after a few days.».
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Johnson and Johnson
The side effects of the JnJ vaccine are very similar to those of AstraZeneca: plus there are sneezing, back pain, tremor and sore throat. The information on blood disorders that only AstraZeneca has, however, does not appear.
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