Public asked not to medicate before vaccination

April 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The National Adverse Events Following Immunization Committee (NAEFIC) yesterday asked the public not to take paracetamol and anti-allergy drugs before getting vaccinated against COVID-19.


NAEFIC member Eileen Alikpala Cuajunco said they do not recommend “pre-medication” to prevent allergic reactions to the vaccines.


“We want to see if you really have a reaction so we can actually (monitor you) within 30 minutes if you do react and not days later because you’re on anti-allergy (medication),” she said at a media forum organized by the Department of Health (DOH).


NAEFIC data showed that the top five adverse events following immunization (AEFI) for Sinovac are blood pressure increase, headache, vaccination site pain, dizziness and rash.


For AstraZeneca vaccines, the five leading AEFI are fever, headache, vaccination site pain, chills and myalgia.



Cuajunco said the committee has not documented any incidents of blood clotting with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which were reported in some countries in Europe.


She said there were cases of vaccinees who tested positive for COVID-19 after receiving the jabs.


“The virus already incubated when they received the vaccine. So we ask the public to continue to follow COVID-19 recommendations. They should not be sick prior to vaccination,” Cuajunco said.


Citing the recommendation of the Philippine Heart Association, she said a person who is hypertensive should not drink coffee on the day of the vaccination.


Cuajunco said another adverse reaction to the vaccine could be anaphylaxis or severe allergy.


‘Hire more nurses’

Meanwhile, Sen. Risa Hontiveros has supported the call of hospital associations for the DOH to augment health care workforce through the mass hiring of nurses as hospitals remain full amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.


Hontiveros echoed the statement of the Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines Inc. (PHAPi) that hospitals remain swamped with COVID-19 patients because of shortage of human resources and not due to limited beds.


“Our hospitals need the DOH’s support, not threats,” she said. “Mass hiring of nurses will ensure that more people are attended to. This will also give health workers time to rest, re-energize and up their immune systems. They are not superhuman after all.”


Some private hospitals that allegedly failed to increase their capacity for COVID-19 patients have received a “notice of first offense” from the DOH, according to PHAPi.


Hontiveros urged the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to pay COVID-19 reimbursements to hospitals. Some hospitals refused to treat COVID-19 patients because of PhilHealth’s non-payment, she said.


Contact tracing

House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda yesterday called for more aggressive contact tracing to curb the surge in COVID-19 cases.


In a statement, the former senator and now Antique congresswoman cited the effectiveness of contact tracing in containing infectious disease outbreaks.


“Contact tracing, if properly employed as a preventive strategy, will bolster the country’s fight against the pandemic. Contact tracing was effectively implemented during the SARS outbreak in 2003 and the Ebola outbreak in 2014. This may be a laborious process, but this can be a key component in ending the spread of COVID-19 virus,” Legarda said.


She also cited the success of contact tracing as COVID-19 response in other countries such as Germany, Singapore and South Korea.


“It has its limitations and challenges, but contact tracing is a proven strategy in containing infectious disease outbreaks. Even the World Health Organization stated that contact tracing is an essential public health tool that will break chains of transmission when systematically applied,” Legarda pointed out.


The Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) have prepared for the hiring of contract tracers under the TUPAD program.


Under Republic Act 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, which was co-authored by Legarda, the DILG was tasked to hire contact tracers for local government units.


Meanwhile, Dasmariñas Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said the national government should take advantage of the digital era by providing online seminars to organizations in an effort to persuade Filipinos about the benefits of getting vaccinated against COVID-19.


The DOH and DILG should work together in trying to boost the people’s confidence to get vaccinated, Barzaga said.


“We need to improve the public’s understanding of how the vaccine can help control the spread of COVID-19 in the communities,” he said. – Cecille Suerte Felipe, Edu Punay, Delon Porcalla