Should the vaccine impact your surgery schedule?

Patients should go for their pre-operative visit and consult with their doctor or anaesthesiologist


MALAYSIA has recently seen a surge in Covid-19 cases contributed by the highly transmissible Delta variant of the disease. As the number of Covid-19 cases in the country continues to rise, vaccinations play a huge role in our march forward to achieve herd immunity and protecting individuals from acquiring further infections.

Despite a slow start of the Covid19 National Immunisation Programme, Malaysia now boasts one of the fastest vaccination rates in the, doling out up to 500,000 doses a day in July.

Vaccines can protect people from getting and spreading the virus, and from getting seriously ill in the event when one is infected. This is especially vital for those who have an underlying health condition and are vulnerable to the virus.

One of the barriers in speeding up the vaccination programme was the negative public opinion and misinformation of the vaccine, spread by “anti-vaxxers”. According to World Health Organisation, the risk of serious adverse reactions of vaccination is much lower than the risk of serious disease or even death caused by the infection with Covid-19.

Here’s why:

• Covid-19 vaccines were developed using science and research that has been around for decades.

• Covid-19 vaccines went through all the required stages of clinical trials, extensive testing and monitoring that proven the vaccine as safe and effective.

Are there any associated risks to surgery after getting the Covid-19 vaccine?

That said, we are also seeing a rise in myths associated with the administration of the vaccine. One of the most recent pieces of misinformation circulating online is regarding the risk of getting adverse reactions from anaesthesia, especially for those who are vaccinated. This claim has been dismissed by The Malaysian Society of Anaesthesiologists and the College of Anaesthesiologists, Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, and to date, there is no scientific evidence to validate the unfounded misinformation.

For this, it becomes important for patients to have a little background understanding of anaesthesia. Anaesthesia is a treatment using drugs called anaesthetics to keep patients from feeling pain during surgery or medical procedures.

Three main types of anaesthesia:

• Local anaesthesia
• Regional anaesthesia
• General anaesthesia

As described, anaesthesia and the Covid-19 vaccine operate in two completely different systems, and as such anaesthesia does not pose any effect to our antibody, immune system or reaction towards any vaccines. Hence, it is safe for patients to undergo surgery under local anaesthesia even after getting the Covid-19 vaccination.

At ALTY Orthopedic Hospital, we would encourage our patients to complete their Covid-19 vaccination before their surgery as this will pose a minimal risk of infection to not just the patient themselves, but also the healthcare workers in the hospital.

The type of anaesthesia used is usually determined by anaesthesiologists, depending on the type of procedure. They will determine the best course of action via a thorough investigation of vitals and make sure that the patient is medically fit before undergoing any procedure.

It is best for patients to go for their pre-operative visit and consult with their doctor or anaesthesiologist, so they can schedule or plan for the elective surgery accordingly. During this session, I would encourage patients to share their medical history with their doctor, talk about previous experiences with anaesthesia and clarify any further questions that they might have.

As an anaesthesiologist, I would advise my patients to rest for a few days after they have completed their Covid-19 vaccination if it is an elective case. This is because some patients may experience side effects such as fever, muscle ache or nausea post the vaccine, which is commonly seen. However, if it is an urgent case such as a bone fracture or spinal injury, we would proceed to perform the procedure.

In the face of uncertainties, people often turn to social media platforms for information. However, it is important to ensure that the information is obtained from trusted sources. You can always consult your doctor or meet a doctor through telehealth service for medical advice if you are still unsure or need more information.

Rest assured, Malaysia operates an internationally lauded healthcare system and was also ranked first as the world’s best in healthcare with its world-class healthcare services and sophisticated infrastructure, by International Living in 2019.

This should give patients further confidence in their healthcare professionals in Malaysia as they strive to do their best to deliver a seamless patient experience.

Dr Mohamad Fadhil Hadi is a consultant anaesthesiologist and critical care at ALTY Orthopaedic Hospital.

The views expressed are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the newspaper’s owners and editorial board.