Deciding if a COVID-19 vaccine is safe for people with allergies, Duke doctor takes her chance


Medical staff receive part of a Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine shipment at the UZ Leuven hospital in Leuven, Belgium, Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020. Belgium is preparing to begin its Covid-19 vaccination program, with first vaccinations beginning on Monday. (Nicolas Maeterlinck, Pool via AP)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)- Allergic reactions have been reported in some healthcare workers after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC said reactions are more likely to happen with people who already have a history of allergic reactions.

Despite the concerns, one Duke Health doctor with allergies decided to get the vaccine anyway.

Dr. Leonor Corsino receiving a COVID-19 vaccine

“There have been some cases of allergic reactions but they’ve been small. That kind of made me more comfortable so on December 28, I received my first dose,” said Dr. Leonor Corsino, an adult endocrinologist with Duke Health.

Dr. Corsino said she’d had allergic reactions to foods and medications in the past.

“When you have an anaphylaxes, it’s really scary. It’s not something you would recommend to anybody. In my case, it was really scary. I ended up in the emergency department,” said Corsino.

Corsino said that past experience made her apprehensive about the vaccine- even though she would be one of the first on the list to receive it.

The doctor said she did her due diligence with reading CDC guidelines and recommendations. She also consulted with her healthcare provider. Ultimately, she said she chose to trust scientists behind the vaccine. She did not have a reaction to the vaccine.

“There’s this myth out there that this vaccine was created overnight. We know that there are scientists who have been working in this technique for a long time,” Corsino said.

Although there have been allergic reactions, all have been resolved and treated successfully.

Dr. Corsino said she hoped people will do their research using reliable sources when considering a vaccine.

“I’ve been doing a lot of reflection about misinformation that sometimes it’s sad for me to see that a vaccine that’s been done by really, really professional, brilliant minds has been put into question,” said Corsino.

She hopes her story will re-assure people of the safety of the vaccine. At the same time, she wants people to keep in mind that every individual’s health condition is different so each person should consult with their own healthcare provider.

Click here for information about allergic reactions from the CDC.

Allergic reaction to other types of vaccines

The CDC recommends speaking with your doctor if you have had an immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine or injectable therapy for another disease. The reaction does not necessarily have to been severe. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated.

Allergies reaction not related to vaccines

CDC recommends that people with a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications get vaccinated. Those reactions could have been related to foods, pets, venom, environmental, or latex allergies. The CDC said people with a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions may also get vaccinated.

Why are people getting allergic reactions?

The CDC has no clear explanation for why people are having reactions to the vaccine. However, their guidance said people with previous allergies to polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polysorbate should not get a vaccine. The CDC said polysorbate is not an ingredient in either of the current COVID-19 vaccines but is closely related to PEG, which is in the vaccines.

If you have had a severe allergic reaction after the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC recommends you not get a second dose.

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