Fact Check: Is it life threatening to use anesthetics after getting vaccinated for COVID-19? Here are the facts…

COVID-19 Misleading

At a time where only a small percentage of total population has been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Sri Lanka, a viral WhatsApp forward which claimed the life threatening risk of anesthetics after vaccination, has caused further agitation in the community.

Fact Crescendo Sri Lanka’s investigation into this viral claim proved this was yet another claim which was infusing fear among the society which could even increase the hesitancy to get vaccinated.

Social Media Posts:

A WhatsApp forward claiming that the taking any form vaccines before 4 weeks from COVID-19 vaccination, went viral in Sri Lanka as seen below.

[Vaccination Warning

 Anyone who has been vaccinated against coronavirus is prohibited from taking any type of anesthetic, even local anesthetics or dentist’s anesthetics, because this poses a great danger to the life of the vaccinated person and is highly dangerous.  There is a possibility of death… Therefore, the vaccinated person must wait 4 weeks after the vaccination. If he has a reaction, he can administer anesthetic only 4 weeks after the antibody develops.  A Pharmacy’s friend relative was vaccinated two days ago. He went to the dentist yesterday and died immediately after receiving local anesthetics.  After reading the warning about the coronavirus vaccination in the vaccine box, we discovered that after the coronavirus vaccine was given, there was a warning not to take anesthetics.
 Please spread this information to protect your family, relatives, friends and everyone.

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The viral message claims that the reason for person having to wait at least 4 weeks is for the body to develop antibodies. The message cites an example of a person who had died after receiving local anesthetics at a dental clinic and also states that there was a warning in the vaccine box saying not to take anesthetics as well.

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Different versions of this message was shared in Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms as well. Below is a Tweet from a Sri Lankan user.

Tweet | Archived

Fact Check 

An anesthetic is a drug used to prevent pain during medical procedures by acting on certain nerve pathways to prevent the nerves in the area from sending signals to the brain. It usually takes a few minutes for the drug to take effect, and it wears off after a few hours. More on Uses, types, and risks of local anesthesia is seen here.

Fact Crescendo Sri Lanka team consulted Dr. Ashan Pathirana from Health Promotions Bureau and we were told that there is no scientific basis in the viral claim and that research so far has not shown any relationship between vaccination and use of anesthetics.  Furthermore, he said that there is no such warning as indicated in the viral message, issued by Epidemilogy unit in Sri Lanka either.

Dr. Ananda Wijewickrama, Consultant Physician at Infectious Disease Hospital also dismissed the claims given in the viral message as baseless.

WHO Sri Lanka office also confirmed that no warning had been issued by WHO with respect to COVID19 vaccines and anesthesia.

Next we looked at how some of the foreign health officials had responded to these claims.

Also Read:

According to the Saudi Ministry of Health, there are no adverse effects receiving local or general anesthesia for recently vaccinated patients, including those who received vaccinations for the coronavirus as reported by Arab News.

Malaysian Society of Anesthesiologists had also issued a statement with respect to Anaesthesia requirements of vaccinated individuals. While strongly refuting the misleading message circulating on the social platforms, the society states “To date, there is no scientific evidence to validate the unfounded misinformation. Allowing such misstatements to propagate may impact many vulnerable individuals awaiting anaesthesia for surgical procedures and their inclination for vaccination” 

The statement goes on to say that “If the surgery is an emergency, recent vaccination should not be the reason to defer surgery” Full press statement is seen below.

Msa.net | Archived

American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) had shared similar views stating that while there is no evidence that either COVID-19 or the vaccine interferes with anesthesia it is advisable to wait until you are fully recovered from COVID19 or fully immunized after vaccination before proceeding with surgery. The reason being surgery is a stressful process on the body and temporarily puts extra strain on the immune system. ASA states “If you’ve been vaccinated, your surgery should be scheduled at least two weeks after your final dose so that you are fully protected” in case of non-emergency surgeries.

ASA | Archived

CDC recommends that “If you have recently had surgery, been hospitalized, or had a procedure that required anesthesia, or if you have any of these events coming up, talk to your doctor about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide when to be vaccinated to make sure the benefits of vaccination outweigh potential risks”

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Conclusion 

From our investigation, it is clear that while there is no scientific basis in the viral claim, anesthesiologists have advised to wait for few days after getting vaccinated, in case of non-emergency surgeries. 

That is mainly for the person to be fully immunized after vaccination procedure and to ensure that there would not be any extra strain on the immune system from vaccination. However, if the surgery is an emergency, recent vaccination should not be the reason to defer surgery as per the information available so far.

There is no warning to by the vaccine manufacturers or by WHO requesting vaccinated individuals to avoid anesthesia and there is no evidence so far which suggests that taking any form of anesthetic measures post vaccination is life threatening.

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Title:Is it life threatening to use anesthetics after getting vaccinated for COVID-19?

Fact Check By: Sahan Perera 

Result: Misleading

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