COVID-19 vaccine is what will pull us out of this pandemic. However, some people are not sure about the timing. If you are waiting for an elective surgery, should you get a vaccine shot before the procedure? Or should you wait and get the jab after the surgery?
Scientists at the University of Birmingham say that people who are waiting for elective surgeries should actually be a priority and get vaccines before the general population.
Scientists studied data for 141,582 patients from across 1,667 hospitals in 116 countries. They estimate that an additional 58,687 COVID-19-related deaths could be prevented in one year if pre-operative vaccination for elective patients was a priority. But why is that?
Well, surgery rooms are very clean and you are not likely to get an infection there. However, post-op time is critical, because surgical procedures are a big challenge for the body's immune system. Scientists estimate that developing COVID-19 after a surgery is 4-8 times more dangerous in terms of the risk of death. Researchers say that some 70 year old cancer patients who have a 2.8 % mortality rate after a surgery are facing 18.6 % mortality if they develop COVID-19 infection. This means that we can prevent more deaths by vaccinating people before the elective surgeries. This is very important information, especially considering that COVID-19 pandemic is not really coming to an end.
Mr Aneel Bhangu, co-lead author of the study, said: “Preoperative vaccination could support a safe re-start of elective surgery by significantly reducing the risk of COVID-19 complications in patients and preventing tens of thousands of COVID-19-related post-operative deaths.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic first started up to 70% of elective surgeries were postponed. This was because hospital staff was becoming busier and busier every day. Also, hospitals became hotspots for infections in many cases. As times went on and healthcare institutions were more and more prepared, elective surgery pace was picked up to avoid a huge backlog. With all the information we have now, we need to continue working through those planned surgeries. It seems like vaccinating people before operations is the best way to reduce the number of deaths. Also, it is not just about deaths – vaccination is also likely to decrease post-operative pulmonary complications.
COVID-19 vaccines are our ticket to normality. However, we need to start working towards our normal life again now. Surgeries need to continue at some capacity, but they need to be done safely. It seems that vaccination is one of the conditions of that safety.
Source: University of Birmingham