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This Morning: Holly Willoughby questions expert on vaccines

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The UK’s vaccination rollout marks a first on several fronts. The hugely ambitious operation has seen more than 60 million people receive a vaccine dose in a matter of months. The reams of data generated and subsequent interest in the possible side effects of getting vaccinated represents another first. This newfound interest in the side effects owes in part to reports linking AstraZeneca’s vaccine to blood clots. Symptoms of blood clots include throbbing or cramping pain in a leg – does the AstraZeneca or Pfizer coronavirus vaccine cause leg pain?

According to data published by Public Health England (PHE), leg pain has not been specifically associated with either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine.

However, the PHE notes that more than one in 10 people have reported experiencing joint pain or muscle ache/pain after receiving either vaccine.

The handful of reports that link the AstraZeneca vaccine to blood clots has prompted specific guidance about leg-related symptoms, however.

Vaccine recipients are advised to call 111 immediately if they experience leg swelling from around four days to four weeks after being vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Does the Pfizer vaccine cause blood clots?

According to the Public Health England Guidance for health professionals on blood clotting following COVID-19 vaccination, there have been only two cases of thrombosis (blood clots) with thrombocytopenia (low blood platelets) reported for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine until 31 March 2021 in the UK.

There is currently no evidence suggesting that these rare events were caused by the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

The combination of blood clots with low blood platelets that has been associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine is not currently associated with either the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Moderna vaccines, both of which are made with a different technology known as mRNA.

A pre-print (study not yet peer reviewed) retrospectively analysed health records in a US-based population and compared the risk of the rare blood clotting condition following COVID-19 with the risk of developing them following vaccination with these two mRNA vaccines.

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The preprint showed that their risk is higher in COVID-19 patients than in people receiving either of these mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines.

The authors could not make a direct comparison with the risks of thrombosis (formation of a blood clot) following the AstraZeneca vaccine because it is not currently used in the US.

General side effects associated with the coronavirus vaccines

According to the NHS, allied buildings most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week.

These include:

  • A sore arm where the needle went in
  • Feeling tired
  • A headache
  • Feeling achy
  • Feeling or being sick.

If your side effects are causing you discomfort, there are things you can do to alleviate them.

“You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to,” advises the NHS.

As the health body points out, you may get a high temperature or feel hot or shivery one or two days after having your vaccination.

“But if you have a high temperature that lasts longer than two days, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste you may have COVID-19. Stay at home and get a test.”

If you have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19, get a PCR test (test that is sent to a lab) to check if you have COVID-19 as soon as possible.

You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.

Anyone in your childcare or support bubble should also stay at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.

A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from one other household.

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