Norwegian officials have adjusted their advice on who gets the COVID-19 vaccine leaving the decision up to doctors.
The new advice comes after Norway reported 23 deaths among patients in nursing homes who were over 80 and suffered from common adverse reactions like fever and nausea after the vaccination. A large proportion of the people who have so far been vaccinated in Norway are the elderly. Doctors did not rule out if 23 people died from the jab's side effects. Fever and nausea, side effects of the vaccine, “may have led to the deaths of some frail patients,” Sigurd Hortemo of the Norwegian Medicines Agency said in the body’s first report of the side effects.
Soon after the news surfaced, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health issued a clarification. It said that severely frail patients or patients with a short remaining life expectancy must be assessed individually by healthcare professionals daily. The institute further said that “any side effects of the vaccine will be outweighed by a reduced risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 for elderly, frail people.” It added that “for very frail patients and terminally ill patients, a careful balance of benefit versus disadvantage of vaccination is recommended.”
According to Steinar Madsen, medical director with the agency, “Doctors must now carefully consider who should be vaccinated. Those who are very frail and at the very end of life can be vaccinated after an individual assessment.” Medsen further said “We are not alarmed by this. It is quite clear that these vaccines have very little risk, with a small exception for the frailest patients.”
As many countries worldwide are rolling out mass vaccinations, many healthcare experts and scientists expect some deaths and other severe side effects. But determining whether or not the vaccine caused deaths is very important before anyone jumps to conclusions and requires that all other potential causes be ruled out first.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.