All Registered Vaccines against COVID-19 Are Effective and Safe, As Is AstraZeneca Vaccine

Vaccination is the most effective way to stop the epidemic spreading here and in the world over the long term. All registered vaccines are equally effective with regard to their ability to protect a vaccinated person from a serious and fatal illness with COVID-19. The AstraZeneca vaccine is just as safe as the other vaccines and offers a good standard of protection against COVID-19, which is fundamental in the current pandemic situation.

“This vaccine is 100% effective in all age categories, i.e. including 65+ and 70+ senior citizens, against serious COVID, against hospitalisation and against death.A person to whom this vaccine is administered can be certain that after getting sick with COVID he/she will not be seriously ill and will not die,” stated Roman Chlíbek, chairman of the Czech Vaccine Society and the Head of the Epidemiology Group at the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic.

Vaccines against COVID-19 are medicines that prevent the illness caused by the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, by causing an immune response to the virus. Everybody who is vaccinated is also helping protect those that cannot be vaccinated because of their medical condition.

What is the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine?

All vaccines are 100% effective against serious illness, hospitalisation and death. Between the 1st and 2nd dose, the efficacy is 78%. Their efficacy is 81% against getting sick with COVID-19.

What is the difference between the individual types of vaccines?

All three approved vaccines available on the Czech market, i.e. the vaccines from Pfizer/BionTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca, are equally safe. They are comparably immunogenic, i.e. comparably stimulate the immune system across age categories.

How does the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca work?

The AstraZeneca vaccine works by preparing the organism so that it can defend itself against a COVID-19 infection. The vaccine comprises another virus (an adenovirus) that was modified in such a way that it cannot in any way reproduce and contains the gene for creating the SARS-CoV-2 protein spike. The spike protein is a protein on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that the virus needs so that it can enter an organism’s cells. After administration, the vaccine transports the SARS-CoV-2 gene into cells in the organism. With the help of this gene, the cells create the spike protein. A person’s immune system then recognises this protein as foreign, creates antibodies against it and activates T cells (white blood cells) to attack it. If the person subsequently encounters the SARS-CoV-2 virus, his/her immune system recognises it and the organism will be ready to defend itself against it. The adenovirus in the vaccine cannot reproduce itself and does not bring about the illness.

When will the first antibodies be created after the vaccine’s application?

Fourteen days after the application of the first dose, a high level of antibodies will be created. They greatly increase after the second dose.

Who is the vaccine from AstraZeneca intended for?

The vaccine from AstraZeneca is intended for all adults aged over 18. This is based on the SPC (summary of product characteristics). The SPC for the AstraZeneca vaccine does not state an upper age limit and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) did not issue any special recommendations in this sense. The age limit for its use is therefore not in any way limited from the professional viewpoint. The limitations that some countries have adopted were always more of a recommendation from the viewpoint of the national vaccination strategies.

How many doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are administered to a patient and how?

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is administered in two doses, usually into a muscle in the upper part of the arm, with an interval of 12 weeks.

Can the vaccine be administered to children?

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is currently not recommended for use on children. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) agreed with the company on a plan for performing additional clinical evaluations at a later stage.

Can the vaccine be administered to a person with weakened immunity?

Data about persons with weakened immunity (immunocompromised persons) are limited. Although persons with weakened immunity may not have a sufficient response to the vaccine, the data available until now do not indicate any special fears regarding their safety. Persons with weakened immunity can be vaccinated, as they could be at a higher risk of a serious form of COVID-19 arising.

Can the vaccine be administered to pregnant or breastfeeding women?

Preliminary studies did not prove any detrimental effects during pregnancy, although the data about the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy is very limited. Although no studies have been performed focused on breastfeeding, no risk is foreseen in connection with breastfeeding. A decision on whether to administer a vaccine to pregnant women should be taken after thorough consultation with a doctor, who will consider the possible benefits and risks.

Can the vaccine be administered to allergy sufferers?

The vaccine should not be administered to persons with a known allergy to one of the vaccine’s components stated in the patient information leaflet. Allergic reactions (reactions due to hypersensitivity) have been observed in persons to whom the vaccine was administered. Just as with all vaccines against COVID-19, it is necessary to administer AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine under careful medical supervision and to ensure the availability of suitable medical care in the event of allergic reactions. Persons that have a serious allergic reaction after the administration of the first dose of the vaccine should not get the second dose of the vaccine.

How is this vaccine stored?

This vaccine is the most appropriate for use in general practitioners’ surgeries, as it does not require demanding storage conditions, in contrast to the Pfizer vaccine, for example. It is the only one that is stored at a fridge temperature of 2–8 °C for the entire time. A benefit is that when a bottle is opened it is possible to store the opened bottle for another two days at fridge temperature. It is therefore not necessary to use up a whole bottle of vaccine on the same day. It can be stored at room temperature for six hours after opening.

What risks are linked to the vaccine?

The most frequent side effects linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 were usually of slight or medium intensity and faded within a few days of vaccination. The most frequent side effects are pain and sensitivity in the place of the injection, headaches, tiredness, muscle pain, a general feeling of discomfort, chills, fever, joint pain and a feeling of nausea. They affected more than one person out of ten.

Is the vaccine suitable for senior citizens?       
At the current time, there is a global lack of vaccines, so it is vulnerable groups of the population that should be protected as a priority. It is therefore more than appropriate to protect them with an available and, of course, approved vaccine. The application of any vaccine is a path towards the prevention of a serious or even fatal illness with COVID-19. And this is clearly provided by the AstraZeneca vaccine, regardless of age.

Can a senior citizen refuse the vaccine?

Of course, if a senior citizen or anybody has any doubts about whether he/she should be vaccinated, with regard to his/her medical condition, it is certainly a good idea to talk about this with his/her general practitioner or the relevant specialist that best knows the patient’s overall medical condition and can assess it.  

Is this vaccine effective against the British mutation?

Yes, this vaccine protects against the British mutation of COVID-19.