The argument in favour of getting three shots of a coronavirus vaccine seems almost unassailable by this point. Data is still being gathered on the efficacy of the booster shot but some estimates put protection levels at around 95 percent after a third dose. Most people in the UK are being offered a booster dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine.
As the vaccination campaign has progressed, health bodies have closely monitored the vaccines for any adverse reactions.
On Thursday, the Moderna vaccine came under the microscope of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – the pan-European drugs watchdog.
The EMA has issued several updates on the safety of all coronavirus shots.
The health body says it is assessing reports of a rare blood condition known as capillary leak syndrome (CLS) following inoculation with Moderna’s vaccine.
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“Capillary leak syndrome is a very rare, serious condition that causes fluid leakage from small blood vessels (capillaries), resulting in swelling mainly in the arms and legs, low blood pressure, thickening of the blood and low blood levels of albumin (an important blood protein),” explains the EMA.
The health body continues: “Healthcare professionals should be aware of the signs and symptoms of capillary leak syndrome and of its risk of recurrence in people who have previously been diagnosed with the condition.”
It says it had recorded six cases of CLS and was assessing all data, but it was not yet clear if there was a causal association between the reports and the vaccine.
It is not the first Covid vaccine to be linked to CLS.
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Earlier in the year, EMA’s safety committee (PRAC) concluded that CLS should be added to the product information as a new side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine, together with a warning to raise awareness among healthcare professionals and patients of this risk.
At the time, the Committee carried out an in-depth review of six cases of capillary leak syndrome in people who had received the vaccine.
Most of the cases occurred in women and within four days of vaccination.
Three of those affected had a history of CLS and one of them subsequently died.
Booster vaccine doses are available on the NHS for people most at risk from COVID-19 who have had a second dose of a vaccine at least six months ago.
- This includes:
- People aged 50 and over
- People who live and work in care homes
- Frontline health and social care workers
- People aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
- People aged 16 and over who are a main carer for someone at high risk from COVID-19
- People aged 16 and over who live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis).
People who are pregnant and in one of the eligible groups can also get a booster dose.
Most people can book a vaccination appointment online for an appointment at a vaccination centre or pharmacy.