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Norway has reported that 23 elderly people have died within days of taking the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, with 13 of those deaths said to be related to "side effects".
Common reactions to the jab, including fever and nausea, “may have contributed to a fatal outcome in some frail patients,” Sigurd Hortemo, chief physician at the Norwegian Medicines Agency, said.
All 13 who suffered supposed side effects were nursing home patients and at least 80 years old. Health officials are not expressing concern but they are adjusting their guidance on who should receive the vaccine.
Steinar Madsen, medical director with the Norwegian Medicines Agency, said: "It is quite clear that these vaccines have very little risk, with a small exception for the frailest patients.
"Doctors must now carefully consider who should be vaccinated.
"Those who are very frail and at the very end of life can be vaccinated after an individual assessment.”
More than 30,000 people in Norway have received the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines since last month, according to official figures.
Pharmaceutical firm Pfizer said it is "aware of the reported deaths" in Norway and is working with the Norwegian Medicines Agency "to gather all the relevant information".
The Pfizer vaccine is one of three that have been cleared for use in the UK, along with those produced by AstraZeneca and Moderna.
A spokeswoman for the company said: "Norwegiant authorities have prioritized the immunization of residents in nursing homes, most of whom are very elderly with underlying medical conditions and some which are terminally ill.
"(The Norwegian Medicine Agency confirms) the number of incidents so far is not alarming, and in line with expectations.
"All reported deaths will be thoroughly evaluated by (the agency) to determine if these incidents are related to the vaccine. The Norwegian government will also consider adjusting their vaccination instructions to take the patients’ health into more consideration."
The Norwegian Medicines Agency, the country's drugs regulator, reported that 29 people suffered side effects in total, including 13 who died.
Besides those who died, nine had serious side effects which included allergic reactions, strong discomfort and severe fever, while seven had less serious ones such as pain at the injection site.
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