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Do you have a comorbidity? Here's what you need to know before getting the COVID-19 jab

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Apr 05, 2021 9:07 pm

The Philippines has ramped up the inoculation of its citizens against COVID-19 with a “simultaneous vaccination” of the identified Top 3 priority groups—healthcare workers (A1), senior citizens (A2), and people with comorbidities (A3).

Last week, some local government units in Metro Manila started vaccinating priority group A3 (inoculated with Sinovac), together with the A2 group (inoculated with AstraZeneca), with the guidelines released by the Department of Health (DOH). The Philippine government provides the vaccine for free.

According to the DOH, only adults between 18 to 59 years old with any controlled comorbidity will be part of the A3 priority group. Priority will be given to those whose comorbidities are among the top causes of COVID-19 and national morbidity and mortality, which include the following:

  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Malignancy
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Neurologic disease
  • Immunodeficiency rate

What you need to prepare before your vaccination 

If you are eligible to be vaccinated under the A3 category, make sure you first register with your local government unit. Once you have received a confirmation from the LGU, there are requirements you need to prepare before your vaccination day.

Before heading to the vaccination sites, make sure you have any of the following proofs of comorbidity issued within the past 18 months: 

  • Medical certificate from an attending physician
  • Prescription for medicines
  • Hospital records (like discharge summary or medical abstract)
  • Surgical records and pathology reports

For those who belong to the A3 subgroups—those with autoimmune disease, HIV, cancer/malignancy, transplant patients, those undergoing steroid treatment, and patients with poor prognosis or bed-ridden—would have to present either a physical or soft copy of a medical clearance from an attending physician or specialist prior to vaccination.

On the day of your health screening, make sure to truthfully declare your complete medical history because it will be crucial in determining whether you should get vaccinated.

What to expect on your vaccination day

A man gets a jab of AstraZeneca vaccine at the Batasan Hills National High School in Quezon City. Photo by Michael Varcas/The Philippine STAR

You have to present any of the abovementioned requirements to the health workers for an assessment if you are eligible to receive the vaccine. You must also present any government-issued ID like PRC license, driver’s license, UMID, PhilHealth ID or passport. Those without a government ID with photo may present any government document like cedula, barangay certificate, or birth certificate.

Those under A3 groups will have to undergo a screening process on the day of your vaccination for active disease. You will also need to sign an informed consent form signifying your willingness to be vaccinated and that you are aware of the benefits and risks of the vaccine.

After being vaccinated, you will be given a vaccination card and you will be asked to stay in a facility for one hour for monitoring purposes before you are allowed to go home.

According to DOH, monitoring will continue for until 12 months after you’ve received your jab.

For the groups that include people living with HIV, affected with tuberculosis, and bed-ridden patients at home or in institutions (like home for the aged and nursing homes), the LGUs are required to conduct the vaccination either in a separate facility or in current vaccination sites but at a separate date from the rest of the other eligible individuals.

Some people with comorbidity may be deferred for a jab

In the event that the potential vaccine recipients show symptoms of COVID-19 or their comorbidity on the day of their vaccination, they will be deferred for inoculation according to the DOH implementing guidelines. These include the following: 

  • Abnormal vital signs including heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure even after monitoring for 60 minutes.
  • Have had attacks, admissions, or changes in medication for the past three months.

The deferrals will be based on the clinical judgment of the physician at the vaccination site. 

What to expect post-vaccination

In general, those who get vaccinated may experience side effects similar to having the flu, but it is expected to go away in a few days, says the health department.

It is normal to feel discomfort from fever or pain, but the DOH says you could contact your health care provider if redness or tenderness where you got the jab increases after 24 hours or if the side effects of the vaccine do not seem to be going away after a few days.