Top 3 COVID-19 vaccine questions – smoking, the pill and blood clots; reducing your risk of clotting and recovering from long COVID

In this video, Alison McMillan the Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer answers the top 3 questions you’ve been asking this week on our social accounts.


Hello my name is Alison McMillan and I’m the Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer. I'm here today with Linda to join you in our Top Three. Firstly, a shout out now to all the over 50s, you can now access the COVID-19 vaccines through general practice through a general practice respiratory clinic or through one of the number of the mass vaccination hubs around the states and territories in Australia. I encourage you to get an appointment. The best way to do that is through the Eligibility Checker which you can find at Important to remember that while you're waiting for your appointment, it's important to continue to stay CovidSafe.

First question, if I take the pill or smoke, am I more likely to experience blood clotting from the COVID-19 vaccines?

I think it's important to remember firstly that the blood clotting disorder associated with one of the two vaccinations available in Australia, that's the AstraZeneca vaccine, this blood clotting disorder is called thrombus with thrombocytopenia syndrome or more commonly known as TTS. This is a very rare clotting disorder and appears to be unique to the AstraZeneca vaccine. The syndrome appears to be quite distinct from any other type of blood clotting disorder and it's really important that I emphasise to you today, that the risk of getting a blood clot is much higher if you get the COVID-19 virus than if you get the Covid vaccine, so I’m encouraging you still to get that vaccine. Just by way of example, we do see some blood clotting disorders, for example, one in 2 000 people who take the contraceptive pill do form some type of blood clotting disorder, or one in a thousand people who might fly also may get a blood clotting disorder. So it's important to remember that anyone, the risk of significant illness and death is considerable with COVID-19 and that that includes the risk of blood clots if you do get infected with Covid.

Second question, is there anything I can do to reduce the risk of clotting from happening?

So again this blood clotting disorder is relatively rare and we do, there are, as I’ve said before, a wide range of blood clotting disorders we see every day in Australia. So we see more than a thousand cases of blood clots in Australia in any one day. If you have any major concerns or you have a history of blood clotting disorder, then by all means talk to your general practitioner or health professional about your concerns.

And finally, can the vaccine help people recover from long COVID?

So long COVID is a phenomena that has been recently seen as a part of this new um of COVID-19. People can see long-term symptoms, all sorts of a range of symptoms, for 8-10 weeks after their initial infection and in fact we are seeing some people who had no initial symptoms or very little, low symptoms, during their infection continue to see ongoing problems after this, as this phenomenon we talk about the long COVID. So one of the things that we've seen in recent weeks of this evidence forming is suggesting that people who have had Covid but then go on and have the vaccine, it appears that this may be helpful in treating long COVID. Obviously this needs further research and investigation but this may be something that's, again, an important reason that even if you have had Covid, it's still important to get vaccinated. Finally, can I just say thank you to everyone for joining us today on our Top Three. Really important in this winter time, remember please stay safe and maintain those CovidSafe things we've been doing since the beginning of this pandemic. Thank you.

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1. If I take the pill or smoke, am I more likely to experience blood clotting from the COVID-19 vaccines?

2. Is there anything I can do to reduce the risk of clotting from happening?

3. Can the vaccine help people recover from long COVID?

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