What people with allergies, history of COVID-19 should know before getting anti-coronavirus shot

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 27) — Can people with allergies receive the COVID-19 vaccine made by biopharmaceutical giant Pfizer?

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Wednesday said individuals who have food and drug allergies can still get the Pfizer vaccine provided they have a certification from their doctors saying they can receive the shot.

But the vaccine is not recommended for people who have suffered severe allergic reactions to other types of vaccines and to any ingredient of Pfizer's vaccine. This was after some people experienced life-threatening allergies after being inoculated with the Pfizer jab. However, these serious allergic reactions are said to be rare. Side effects are usually mild similar to common vaccine reactions.

"Sa mga taong naka-experience ng severe allergic reactions noong sila ay nabakunahan ng kahit anong bakuna, kailangan pong hindi muna bigyan ang tao ito at ma-assess siya ng doktor," Vergeire noted, citing recommendations from the World Health Organization.

[Translation: Those who have experienced severe allergic reactions to any type of vaccine should not be given the COVID-19 vaccine and must be assessed by a doctor.]

Meanwhile, a person who previously contracted COVID-19 still has to be vaccinated, the official said, adding it should be administered three months from the time they had the disease.

"According to experts and the WHO, the possibility of being re-infected is there so we are advised to receive the vaccine still," Vergeire noted, referring to people who had a history of COVID-19.

Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine that has been cleared for emergency use in the Philippines so far. The applications for Emergency Use Authorization of COVID-19 vaccines made by India-based Bharat Biotech, British firm AstraZeneca, Russian company Gamaleya Research Institute, and Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech are pending at the Food and Drug Administration.

The country aims to start its COVID-19 vaccine rollout by next month. Officials have said initial doses of Pfizer's vaccine will arrive as early as the first quarter of 2021 through the COVAX facility. COVAX is a global initiative led by the World Health Organization with the vaccine alliance Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations that aims to ensure equitable access to coronavirus vaccines.