June 12, 2021

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What you should know about vaccination against COVID-19 and severe allergies

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Serious questions have been raised as to whether or not allergy sufferers should be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, to make a decision, you must follow the official information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, for its acronym in English) on the matter.

Know thatAt the time, there was only one report of a severe allergic reaction among hundreds of thousands of vaccinated people (in Alaska), and more research is still being done to identify the cause.

CDC considers a history of severe allergic reaction (such as anaphylaxis) to any other vaccine, whether intramuscular, intravenous, or subcutaneous, as a precaution, but not as a contraindication to vaccination.

Also, the CDC recommends that, in people who report a history of anaphylaxis to any other vaccine or injectable therapy, the provider perform a risk assessment to determine the type of reaction.

The Department of Health informed that the people who receive the vaccines will be monitored by:

  • 30 minutes if they are patients with a history of anaphylaxis
  • 15 minutes the rest of the people

The CDC understands that people with a history of anaphylaxis to other vaccines or injectable medications can still receive the vaccine, but should be counseled to understand the risks and benefits of vaccination.

Likewise, for patients who experience anaphylaxis after the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC recommends that they not receive additional doses of the vaccine.

The Department of Health ensures that, as for other vaccines, although they are rare events, all centers that offer the vaccine for COVID-19 must be prepared to work and stabilize any severe allergic reactions that may occur.

Because anaphylaxis requires immediate treatment, the diagnosis is made primarily based on the recognition of clinical signs and symptoms, including:

  • Respiratory: sensation of throat closing, stridor (high pitched sound when breathing), shortness of breath, wheezing, cough
  • Gastrointestinal: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
  • Cardiovascular: dizziness, fainting, tachycardia (abnormally fast heart rate), hypotension (abnormally low blood pressure)
  • Skin / mucous membranes: generalized hives, itching, or swelling of lips, face, throat

If anaphylaxis is suspected, take the following steps:

  • Quickly assess airway, breathing, circulation, and mental status (mental activity).
  • Call emergency medical services.
  • Place the patient in the prone position, with the feet elevated, unless there is upper airway obstruction or the patient is vomiting.
  • Epinephrine is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis and should be given immediately.

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