Mumbai sees dip in reporting of adverse events post Covid-19 vaccination | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Mumbai sees dip in reporting of adverse events post Covid-19 vaccination

ByJyoti Shelar, Mumbai
Aug 10, 2021 12:02 AM IST

Civic officials said the initial fear and anxiety associated with the vaccines and their common side effects have settled down resulting in the drop in reports of adverse events

Mumbai has recorded a drastic drop in reporting of adverse events post Covid-19 vaccinations over the past several weeks. Civic officials said the initial fear and anxiety associated with the vaccines and their common side effects have settled down resulting in the drop in reports of adverse events. However, medical experts warn that such a trend may eventually lead to missing out on severe Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI).

A senior citizen beneficiary gets vaccinated against Covid-19 at TMC's Vaccination Centre at Kopri. (HT PHOTO)
A senior citizen beneficiary gets vaccinated against Covid-19 at TMC's Vaccination Centre at Kopri. (HT PHOTO)

In the first few months after the Covid-19 vaccination drive began on January 16, the city recorded anywhere between 5 to 15 adverse events every day. However, the daily reporting on most days now is zero. For instance, between August 1 to 7, Mumbai administered 2.91 lakh doses and recorded only seven adverse events (six with Covishield and one with Covaxin). Similarly, in the last week of July, the city administered 4.98 lakh doses and recorded 10 adverse events (all with Covishield).

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AEFI’s are classified into minor, severe and serious events. Any adverse event that leads to hospitalisation is considered a serious event.

“In the initial days, there was a lot of fear associated with the vaccine, not just among the public but also among the vaccination centres,” said Dr Mukesh Agarwal, chairperson of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) AEFI committee. “Therefore, centres were admitting people with all kinds of common side effects like fever, headache etc. Because of the hospitalisation, a lot of these minor adverse events were being counted as serious events,” he said.

Minor AEFI’s consisting of the common side effects like fever, mild headache, pain and swelling at the site of the injection are not actively investigated. However, all serious AEFI’s have to be investigated by the AEFI committee. Earlier the committee would investigate anywhere between 30 to 40 serious AEFI cases in a month, as many minor cases were getting hospitalised as well. Since May, the numbers dropped drastically with no cases coming up for analysis for several weeks.

Mumbai has so far administered over 7.5 million doses. According to the civic data up to June, nearly 990 adverse events and 24 fatalities have been recorded in the city. About 66 adverse events were in the severe and serious category.

“A robust AEFI reporting mechanism is crucial and it should be promoted widely among the people who are getting vaccinated,” said immunisation expert Dr Naveen Thacker. “But in most cities or districts, people don’t have easy access to this information,” he said.

According to Thacker, not just serious adverse events, people should be able to easily report minor events as well.

A senior health official said that one of the many reasons for low AEFI reporting is ‘vaccinators fatigue’. “There is a possibility that vaccinators get calls from people, but they are not recording it in the system. Many of these may be minor or severe AEFI’s. The vaccinators have been working nonstop since the drive began, and it’s obvious for such fatigue to set in.” The official said that while some minor and severe events may go unreported, deaths post-vaccination don’t go unreported.

*How are AEFI’s classified?

Minor AEFI: Fever, mild headache, pain and swelling at the site of the injection, irritability are some of the common side effects of the Covid-19 vaccines. Any such side effects that don’t require active treatment and subside in a day or two are classified as minor events. In such events, paracetamol can be used to alleviate the symptoms.

Severe AEFI: Any event post-vaccination that requires some medical intervention but not hospitalisation can be classified as a severe event. For example, if swelling at the site of the injection becomes an abscess and the person has to be put on medication for it.

Serious AEFI: Any event that requires hospitalisation is classified as a serious event. These can also be events that are seen in clusters or that lead to death.

*Reporting AEFI

-Adverse events seen within a half-hour of vaccination are recorded directly in the observation area

-One can report adverse events at the vaccination centre or to the vaccinator directly.

-If standalone vaccination centres don’t have any contact information, adverse events can be reported to the ward war rooms.

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