As the chief medical advisor to POTUS and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci has been assuring Americans for the past few months that all three of the major available Covid-19 vaccines are safe to use and effective against the disease. However, he’s also tried his best to be objective and to advise caution when it comes to the vaccines’ possible side effects and undesirable reactions.
In a recent Q&A with CBSN, Dr. Fauci highlighted two major possible reasons why some people should avoid the vaccine – allergies and autoimmune disorders. He especially pointed out the danger of a severe anaphylaxis reaction to people who are predisposed to allergies.
“Whenever you deal with a situation with an intervention, as rare as it might be, you can never assure someone that they would not have an allergic reaction,” Dr. Fauci told one of the CBSN listeners who tuned in with a question about allergies.
“People who have a propensity to an allergic reaction, particularly anaphylactic reaction, have a greater likelihood of getting an allergic reaction to a vaccine.”
And Dr. Fauci has been consistent with that messaging for quite some time. Months ago he said that “We are very carefully monitoring these things. And when we see something like an allergic reaction, you modify the recommendation and you say that someone who has a history of a severe allergic reaction, that those individuals don’t get vaccinated now with this product, or if they do get vaccinated, they do it in a location that has the capability of responding to an allergic reaction. You just don’t want to go and get in a place that has no capability.”
How serious is the risk exactly?
Whenever people hear about the risks associated with a new type of drug, it’s understandable to get anxious. However, Dr. Fauci pointed out in his CBSN Q&A that the risks really aren’t very common.
“If you look at the allergic reactions just recently reported in the scientific literature, there’s about between four and five per million vaccinations with the Pfizer and between two and three per million vaccinations with the Moderna.”
5-per-million (Pfizer) and 3-per-million (Moderna) seem like really low numbers compared to the 500,000+ deaths per 30 million cases in the US or the 2.5+ million deaths per 114+ million cases worldwide.
“If you do have a history of allergic reaction—“ Dr. Fauci continued. “If it’s an allergic reaction to something you definitely know is in the vaccine, you might want to wait for another vaccine, but if you just have an allergic person in general to foods and other things, you can get vaccinated, but you should do it in a situation where you’re in a location where someone can handle and treat an allergic reaction, rather than having it in a place where if you do get an allergic reaction, there was no way for it to be treated, but it is an unusual, not rare occurrence based on the numbers that I just told you.”
So, who should avoid it?
The FDA’s recommendations are quite simple – people should NOT get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine if you’ve:
- Had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of the vaccine.
- Had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient of the vaccine.
If neither of these has been the case, you should consider getting the vaccine. That being said, you should tell the vaccination provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:
- have or have had any allergies in the past
- have a fever
- have any type of bleeding disorder or you’re on blood thinners
- are immunocompromised or taking medications that affect your immune system
- are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant
- are breastfeeding
- have received another COVID-19 vaccine.
Neither of these is a self-sufficient reason to not get the Covid-19 vaccine, they are just things you should consult with a medical professional about first. Naturally, with or without the Covid-19 vaccine, we should still follow the anti-Covid fundamentals – wear a mask in public, maintain social distancing, and practice good hygiene at all times.