Gov't to release guidelines as many with minor side effects fill ER
Government guidelines for possible side effects of Covid-19 vaccination may soon be released, according to an association of medical emergency experts.
“We expect [the government] to make an announcement about the guidelines, after the details to it are finalized,” Heo Tag, chairman of the Korean Society of Emergency Medicine (KSEM), told the JoongAng Ilbo Thursday. “The KSEM also intends to publish a copy of the guide it sent to the government.”
The KSEM sent guidelines to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) listing possible side effects of the Covid-19 vaccination and how the recipients and medical experts ought to respond, according to the JoongAng Ilbo. The KDCA is Korea’s authority on the Covid-19 response.
The KSEM recommends recipients of vaccines visit the ER only if conditions such as a high fever persist beyond the first 48 hours after vaccination.
“The purpose of the guidelines are to specify the conditions that are minor, so that not everyone tries to seek emergency medical support all at once,” Heo said. “We recommend that a recipient of the vaccination seek medical attention if they run a high fever that persists beyond the first 48 hours of vaccination.”
The KSEM also recommended that health authorities do not conduct Covid-19 tests on people who were vaccinated within the past 48 hours.
“If a person comes in for a testing and says that he or she has been vaccinated within the past 48 hours, we recommend health authorities not to test that person,” KSEM said in its guide to the KDCA, according to the JoongAng Ilbo. “But if the person is running a temperature higher than 37.5 degrees Celsius [99.5 degrees Fahrenheit] 48 hours after the vaccination, then we recommend health authorities test the person for Covid-19.”
The KSEM guidelines also covered how ER wards should operate in the case that a vaccinated person running a high fever is hospitalized at the ER.
In that case, the hospital should keep the person isolated in a one-person ward if the patient is running a fever higher than 38.5 degrees Celsius and also shows symptoms of Covid-19 infection such as difficulty breathing, the KSEM said.
A vaccinated person can still be infected with Covid-19, if the infection occurs within two weeks of the final dose of vaccination, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among the total 733,124 vaccinated in Korea as of Wednesday, 9,893 had minor side effects such as headaches, muscle pains, fever and nausea, according to the KDCA.
Of the vaccinated, around 1,110 people sought medical attention in the ER, according to KSEM. Around 80 percent of them were diagnosed with a minor side effect.
The number of people who go to the ER following vaccinations is expected to grow as Korea expands its vaccination program to include the general public.
Starting April 1, Korea’s general public aged 75 and over will be eligible for vaccination.
“On average, around 15,000 people seek medical attention at the ER every night,” Heo said. “With members of the general public soon starting to be vaccinated, there could be up to 2,500 more who seek the ER following the vaccinations.
“If many who are vaccinated start to seek medical attention at the ER for minor side effects, they may overwhelm the medical staff members and cause harm to some patients who are in critical condition and actually need immediate medical attention,” Heo said.
The KSEM recommended the government create additional medical centers to focus on side-effect care in order to prevent the exhaustion of resources at hospitals.
Korea added 430 Covid-19 infections as of Wednesday, of which 11 were imported. Among local cases, 125 were based in Seoul, 147 in Gyeonggi, 30 in South Gyeongsang and 27 in Gangwon.
As of Wednesday, Korea’s total cases of Covid-19 infections passed the 100,000 mark, hitting 100,276, according to the KDCA.
BY HWANG SOO-YEON, ESTHER CHUNG [email@example.com]