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September, 25

Adverse reactions to COVID vaccines are rare — here’s how the TGA monitors for anything wrong

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The rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe has hit a speed bump, with several nations suspending its rollout after a small number of recipients experienced blood clots.

That’s despite several global medical bodies, and the Australian Government, maintaining the vaccine is safe and that there is no proof the vaccine increases the risk of clotting.

But people feeling unwell or developing symptoms after receiving a vaccine — more commonly known as an adverse event — is a normal part of any medical rollout, and monitoring them can actually demonstrate that a vaccine is safe.

Here’s how Australia keeps tabs on vaccine safety.

Does Australia release information about adverse events?

Yes it does, and not just for coronavirus vaccines.

A person administers a vaccine
So far Australia has received 730 reports of adverse events, most of them mild.(ABC Alice Springs: Mitchell Abram)

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) maintains a database of adverse event reports, which are made public 90 days after being submitted to the body.

But as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, the TGA has begun releasing weekly updates on the number of adverse reactions reported in Australia.

The latest report, released yesterday, shows that of 164,437 vaccinations in Australia, there were 730 reports of adverse events.

Most adverse events after the COVID vaccine are mild

It’s important to note that while 730 adverse events have been reported, that doesn’t mean the vaccine caused every one of them.

Every day, a certain number of people will experience a range of unexpected medical ailments, and so when hundreds of thousands of people are vaccinated, it only makes sense that some people will experience unrelated symptoms shortly after being vaccinated — they were likely to get sick anyway.

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