Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine

We have received enquiries from people with hereditary haemochromatosis (HH) asking whether the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are safe for people with HH.

At present, there are two Covid-19 vaccines approved for use in Australia; one from AstraZeneca and the other from Pfizer/BioNTech. Both vaccines have been rigorously tested and provisionally approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia.

Although there have not as yet been any specific medical trials focussed on Covid-19 vaccines in people with HHs, there is no evidence that indicates any higher risk to people with haemochromatosis than the general population.

We believe that:

  • there is no additional risk or contra-indication from the vaccines for people with HH
  • Anyone who receives the vaccine is required to avoid venesection for 7 days after the jab – this is a requirement of the Australian Red Cross LifeBlood service
  • people commonly experience a headache immediately after receiving vaccination, so it may be advisable to avoid being venesected in the days before a vaccination and ensure that on the day of vaccination you are well hydrated (water).

If you have concerns about the vaccine you should speak with your doctor.

This update was published 9 April 2021

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Published 21 April 2020

Haemochromatosis Australia is consulting with our medical advisors, health authorities and stakeholders to compile and share haemochromatosis related coronavirus information.

We have prepared some initial information for people with hereditary haemochromatosis below. This has been reviewed by our medical advisors. We will update and add to this information as more evidence-based and trusted information comes to hand.

If you have specific questions after reading this information, you can call our INFO LINE 1300 019 028 during business hours.

How can I find trusted information about coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Worried about coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) but not sure what to do?

Health Direct Australia is working with the Australian Government Department of Health to provide trusted evidence-based information about COVID-19 to the public.

Check the facts on Health Direct Coronavirus website hub. You will find the latest trusted information plus a Coronavirus Symptom Checker tool.

Are there specific risks associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) for people with hereditary haemochromatosis?

This strain of coronavirus (known as COVID-19) is a novel virus. It has emerged in recent months and so its interactions with people with genetic haemochromatosis have not been specifically studied.

However, while we are still learning about how COVID-19 affects people, older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.

At this point there is no specific evidence to suggest an increased risk in people with HH of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19).

I have an appointment for a venesection, test or consultation with my GP or specialist.  Should I go?

Yes, unless you have symptoms of coronavirus or you have been told to self-isolate or you have been specifically instructed by medical or a government authority not to attend.

Advice from Australian Red Cross Lifeblood for therapeutic donors

Lifeblood are asking existing blood donors to keep their appointments if fit and well and invite new donors to come forward to help meet the needs of Australian patients. Therapeutic donors who are well and haven’t travelled are an important source of blood and Lifeblood are keen for them to continue attending as per their venesection schedule.

 Lifeblood donor centres are safe places to visit and they are taking all necessary steps to ensure that stays the case.   

Lifeblood has introduced new measures to ensure the safety of the blood supply. These may change over time so we encourage therapeutic donors to check the Lifeblood website which will be updated regularly.

Basically anyone who has travelled overseas cannot donate for 28 days, This includes therapeutic donors. Anyone who is unwell or who has had contact with a COVID-19 case is also deferred.

For detailed information please visit Lifeblood’s Coronavirus update at https://www.donateblood.com.au/page/novel-coronavirus-update or call Lifeblood on 13 14 95.

I’ve been unable to attend venesection as usual, will that be a problem?

There may be various reasons why you are unable or unwilling to attend a venesection. These could include your own ill-health with coronavirus, self-isolation resulting from a close relative’s infection or specific government or health authority advice.

If you have coronavirus (COVID-19) or are self-isolating, venesection is not a priority. Delaying a venesection by a few weeks or months will generally not have any lasting implications for your health, especially if your Serum Ferritin (SF) does not exceed the reference range. 

While there is some variation in reporting “normal” reference ranges between pathology laboratories, and for males and females, the upper level in Australia would usually be 400 µg/L.

For anyone with coronavirus the priority will be to recover from the coronavirus and/or prevent infecting others. For others the priority may be to reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus themselves, by minimising the need to leave their home. 

Anybody who has any doubt about the appropriate action for themselves should phone their doctor.  This particularly applies to anyone who has been newly diagnosed and/or has a Ferritin level exceeding the reference range.

If you have the symptoms of coronavirus or have been told to self-isolate

  • You should call your doctor before you go to the clinic and tell them about your symptoms,  travel history and whether you have been told to self-isolate. Tell them if you have been in close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19 (including in the 24 hours before they became unwell). They will provide instructions on how to safely attend the appointment without putting yourself, other patients or staff at risk. You should follow their advice.
  • You should not attend your pharmacy, hospital or venesection centre.

This will help to reduce the risks of infecting others, including our hard-working health professionals.