Thrombosis Canada Encourages Patients on Anticoagulant (Blood Thinning) Therapy to Receive a Vaccine to Protect Against COVID-19

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TORONTO--()--Today, Thrombosis Canada is providing immediate guidance to ensure Canadian healthcare professionals and people on anticoagulant (blood thinning) therapy have consistent and accurate information on receiving a vaccination for COVID-19 (according to provincial vaccination plans). For the estimated 1 million Canadians currently receiving anticoagulation therapy, many of whom are elderly and are likely to be at higher risk for coronavirus-related health problems, Thrombosis Canada is encouraging vaccinations, stating that therapy should not be a barrier to the administration of a coronavirus vaccine.

“In response to Thrombosis Canada learning of inconsistent information provided to healthcare professionals and patients about the COVID-19 vaccine and anticoagulation therapy, our members and leading Canadian medical experts, are issuing immediate guidance on this subject to clarify criteria for current and future vaccinations,” said Dr. James Douketis, President, Thrombosis Canada, and Director of Vascular Medicine, Staff Physician in Vascular Medicine and General Internal Medicine at St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton, Ontario. “Thrombosis Canada is emphasizing that any bleeding risk at the vaccine injection site due to anticoagulant therapy and that may result in a hematoma (muscle bruise) is greatly outweighed by the benefits of the vaccine.”

To ensure the safety and protection of all patients on anticoagulation therapy, Thrombosis Canada has issued the following guidance, practical tips and resources for healthcare professionals and patients to encourage all people on therapy to protect themselves. (Guidance can be found at: https://thrombosiscanada.ca/wp-uploads/uploads/2020/12/Antithrombotics-and-COVID-19-Vaccines-Expert-Guidance.pdf and https://thrombosiscanada.ca/covid-19/)

For patients currently taking warfarin:

  • Thrombosis Canada encourages patients who are taking warfarin treatment to receive vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • There is a small risk of bruising at the vaccination injection site, but Thrombosis Canada does not expect any serious effects related to being on blood thinning treatment.
  • Thrombosis Canada suggests that after the vaccine injection prolonged pressure for 3 to 5 minutes is applied to the injection site to reduce bruising.
  • There is no need to measure the blood thinning level (INR test) just before receiving a vaccination; you should continue INR testing according to the schedule recommended by your doctor.

For patients currently taking a newer blood thinner, one of apixaban (Eliquis), dabigatran (Pradaxa), edoxaban (Lixiana), or rivaroxaban (Xarelto):

  • Thrombosis Canada encourages patients who are taking blood thinning (anticoagulant) treatment to receive vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • There is a small risk of bruising at the vaccination injection site, but Thrombosis Canada does not expect any serious effects related to being on blood thinning treatment.
  • Thrombosis Canada suggests that after the vaccine injection prolonged pressure for 3 to 5 minutes is applied to the injection site to reduce bruising.

For patients currently taking Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) or a similar drug because of a previous heart attack or stroke:

  • Thrombosis Canada encourages patients who are taking Aspirin or similar drugs like clopidogrel (Plavix) or ticagrelor (Brillinta) to receive vaccinations, including the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • There is a small risk of bruising at the vaccination injection site, but Thrombosis Canada does not expect any serious effects related to being on blood thinning treatment.
  • Thrombosis Canada suggests that after the vaccine injection prolonged pressure for 3 to 5 minutes is applied to the injection site to reduce bruising.

Bottom line, as Thrombosis Canada member Dr. Menaka Pai of Hamilton, Ontario says, “You can get the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re on blood thinners. Mask up, stay six feet apart, maintain your household bubble, and review the Thrombosis Canada practical tips to understand how to get the vaccine safely.” Dr. Pai is Head of Service, Benign Hematology, Hamilton Health Sciences, and Associate Professor, Division of Hematology & Thromboembolism, Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.