Vaccines Are Safe But Watch Out For Hypersensitivity Reactions
The spread of coronavirus is at its heights in Pakistan. In some areas, the positive cases are 28 percent. Several reasons have contributed to this, such as the government’s neglect to take appropriate measures and lack of awareness about this deadly virus. The people’s fear of the Covid vaccine is preventing them from getting vaccine jabs. There is anxiety about vaccine side effects. As Dr Faisal Sultan, Pakistan health minister, said, “health care workers have driven hesitancy over-analyzing the data”. It would be pertinent to ask why people have anxiety and consider taking the vaccine to overcome their anxiety. This article attempts to create some awareness about what people should consider while deciding to vaccinate.
We hearabout the side effects of corona vaccines, but unfortunately, the complete truth of people’s death after taking vaccination is still under investigation. It is possible that those individuals had past medical conditions causing their demise. The vaccinations are 99% safe and offer protection from coronavirus. As Dr Mehmood, the infectious diseases specialist, said, “without vaccines,we will always be under the threat of more surges”.
Different individuals and people from different age groups have different immunity levels, and side effects or allergic reactions may vary from one individual to another. What is an allergic reaction, or how a side effect happens? Since our bodies are exposed to many things,we may react to certain things; for example -allergy to peanuts, pollen, the sting of a wasp, blood transfusions or vaccines. Whatever the agent, these reactions are referred to as “Hypersensitivity Reactions”.There are four types of reactions, but only type 1 will be discussed as it is more relevant to the corona vaccines. Most complications after vaccines could be a Type 1allergic reaction or hypersensitivity type 1.
Type 1 hypersensitivity: is also known as immediate hypersensitivity.This is a reaction resulting from exposure to a specific substance/antigen(foreign particle). The exposure may be from inhaling, eating, injections etc. It could be from food, bee or wasp sting, fragrance, medication or even vaccine. It may involve skin, eyes, nasopharynx, lungs and gastrointestinal tract. It can cause hives, swelling of the tongue/throat, allergic asthma, etc., and that could happen in minutes or up to 3 to 4 hours after exposure to a vaccination, wasp sting, venom etc. The reaction may be mild to more serious life-threatening conditions, including sudden death from anaphylactic shock (i.e. a situation whereby one experiences shortness of breath, low blood pressure, weak or rapid pulse, skin rash, nausea etc. This scenario could be dangerous if not treated timely.)
Cause of Covid-19 vaccines allergy: Allergic reactions to vaccines are rarely attributed to the active vaccine itself. It is usually the inactive ingredients in the vaccine that may have added constituents (like egg protein, gelatin, etc.), contributing to the type 1 reaction. These agents are added to vaccines to maintain the medicine’s density or absorption and cause an allergic reaction. It is not the vaccine itself.
A person’s anxiety may masquerade as an allergic reaction. One must be very careful that could discern between the two. Vaccine anxiety is associated with flushing, racing pulse/heart-rate or sweating before vaccination. Some have had similar anxiety feelings after vaccination, which are not a direct result of the vaccine itself.
In Pakistan, the Sinopharm vaccine is being used for protection. Sinopharm might be the best bet compared to other vaccines like Astra Zeneca or Pfizer. It is based on an inactivated virus which stimulates the immune system to prevent infection. These viruses are killed or inactivated by heat or chemicals, thereby not leading to clinical disease. This approach is more traditional and regularly practiced in medicine. This vaccine has several advantages because it is inexpensively produced and attacks antigens (foreign particles) without genetic manipulation and protects you life long after taking the vaccine.
Overall, all vaccines are 99 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and death from Covid-19 disease. They help your immune system recognize the COVID-19 virus to protect you from the disease.
Conclusion: Here is the takeaway. First, one should be cautious about allergies, if people understand their allergy sensitivity, they can proceed safely, and it is not that everybody gets some hypersensitivity reaction. If doctor diagnoses that one is allergic to the vaccine, he/she should not take vaccine or any medicine like that. Remember allergic reaction could vary from minor to major shocks. Mostly minor reactions are self-resolving.
Hannah Naveen is a student of medicine at the AllSaints School of Medicine, Canada.