Health experts say serious allergic reaction to COVID-19 vaccine is rare


GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Health officials continue to push for everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine. However, a small percentage of people are allergic to vaccines, leaving them wondering what to do.

However, a local expert says adverse reactions to vaccines are very rare and should not prevent someone from getting the coronavirus vaccine.

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“When they gave me the hepatitis shot, I passed out then I had more reactions to go with that,” said Susan Bell of Swansboro, who says she is allergic to vaccinations. “When I woke up, my mouth was on fire, my whole chest felt like it was going to explode like I was having a heart attack.”

Bell claimed she also had an adverse reaction to the flu shot. She fears the same will happen if she gets the COVID-19 vaccine.

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“These reactions are very uncommon, and the history of having a reaction to another vaccine, for example, Hepatitis B is not an indication in getting this vaccine. These are different vaccines,” said Paul Cook, a professor of medicine at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine. He said anaphylaxis — a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure — is possible but rare.

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“Your airway swells up and you’re not able to breathe. That’s extremely uncommon. You’re much more at risk of getting hit by lightning,” he said.

Cook said mild reactions like fever, fatigue, swelling, redness or rash near the injection site are much more common and should go away with time. It is recommended to consult with your physician about any concerns.

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The vaccine is safe, effective, and proven to stop the spread of the COVID, according to Cook and many health officials.

“An anaphylactic reaction to another vaccine, as I mentioned, is not a reason to avoid this vaccine,” he said.

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Dr. Anthony Fauci said the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases “has started a study to gather information to help doctors advise people who are highly allergic or have a mast cell disorder about the risks and benefits of receiving the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.”

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