Most people can safely get the vaccine for the coronavirus and are encouraged to do so as soon as they possibly can. However, there are some things you may need to discuss with your vaccination provider before you get the vaccine – not because they would make you ineligible, but so that your provider can watch out for certain reactions, give you extra care, or change certain vaccination methods. According to health officials, you should talk to your doctor or vaccination provider before getting the COVID vaccine if you are currently taking one common medication – blood thinners.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a list of things you should “mention to your vaccination provider” before getting the COVID vaccine. That includes having a bleeding disorder or taking a blood thinner. Jason Reed, PharmD, founder of BestRxForSavings, says the reason for that is that blood thinners make you “more likely to have bruising, or bleeding under the skin, at the injection site.” Aaron Emmel, PharmD, founder and program director of PharmacyTechScholar, says your vaccination provider will be able to properly monitor the injection site for signs of excessive bleeding or bruising, otherwise known as a hematoma, if you let them know you are on a blood thinner.
A vaccination provider might choose to change the way they administer the vaccine to reduce bleeding risks for people who are on blood thinners. This could include giving the shot “a little deeper into the muscle instead of just under the skin,” according to Reed. Emmel adds that they would also “apply proper pressure to the injection site so that you do not have excessive bleeding.” Beth Beatriz, Ph.D., an epidemiologist and public health expert at Parenting Pod, says that knowing you are on a blood thinner will also help your vaccination provider choose an appropriately gauged needle when giving the vaccine. That needle would most probably be narrower than the standard needle to limit your possibility of bleeding.
Also, it is recommended you speak to the specific doctor who prescribed you your blood thinner medication before getting vaccinated, as they may choose to alter your dosage. However, it is important to note that you should not stop taking your medicine altogether unless that is what had been advised by your doctor, as doing so could increase the risk of blood clots. Another important clarification is that taking a blood thinner doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the COVID vaccine. In fact, Reed says that those who take a blood thinner usually “have a condition that puts them at higher risk for the virus,” which actually means they should get the vaccine as soon as possible. “The benefits of receiving the vaccine far outweigh any potential for serious bleeding,” says Robert Bona, MD, Yale Medicine hematologist and oncologist and director of the Hemophilia Treatment Center. “And there is no evidence that this could affect the vaccine’s effectiveness.”