Prince Edward Island woman hospitalized with ‘extremely rare’ COVID-19 vaccine allergy shares her story

Prince Edward Island woman hospitalized with ‘extremely rare’ COVID-19 vaccine allergy shares her story

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Last week, Toni Lannigan’s excitement about getting a COVID-19 vaccine quickly turned to panic.
The 32-year-old had no known allergies, but sometimes felt slightly unwell after the annual flu shot, so staff at King’s County Memorial Hospital in Montague, Prince Edward Island, told her asked to wait 30 minutes after his injection of Pfizer-BioNTech instead of the usual. 15, to make sure she would be okay.

It didn’t take long before she fell very ill. The roof of her mouth was itching, her tongue swelling and she was getting confused.

“I don’t remember everything, but I remember looking around and seeing the nurses so worried,” she said.

Luckily the emergency room was a short walk away and the staff rushed her there, where she said her heart started to pound, her blood pressure dropped dramatically and she started having pain. severe pelvic pain.

Treated with epinephrine

She remembers being treated with epinephrine, a medicine used to treat severe allergic reactions, and starting to shake uncontrollably. An ambulance took her to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown, where she was admitted to intensive care.

I don’t remember everything, but I remember looking around and seeing the nurses so worried.– Toni Lannigan

“I felt like I was running a marathon,” she said. “It was a really traumatic thing. ”

Lannigan was released after two days, when her blood results improved, her heart returned to normal and she started to feel better.

Back home in the countryside of Montague, she said that the vision in one eye was always very blurry – her doctor is watching – and that she was weak, extremely nervous and nervous. She has a headache, she has no appetite and she sleeps badly.

“Do I feel myself? Absolutely not. I am a very bubbly girl – I don’t feel that way. I feel very nervous or nervous, and I don’t know why, ”she said. “My nerves are broken. ”

She reflected on the last text she sent her daughter just before her vaccination, telling her that she loved him.

“Could that have been the last thing I said to my daughter?” ” she says.

Still supports vaccination

Lannigan herself works in the healthcare system and knows that anaphylactic reactions to drugs, vaccines or food are not uncommon. She said she still trusts the health care system in Canada.

Lannigan says she had no idea she had allergies at all until she got the vaccine. (Toni Lannigan)

“Just because it happened to me doesn’t… it’s going to happen to you or someone you love,” she said.

She urges people to receive COVID-19 vaccines, but also to educate themselves about what is in the vaccine they are receiving and if they might be allergic to it.

Lannigan is happy that her vaccine was given in a hospital, not one of the mass clinics in Prince Edward Island. “Could I have gotten to where I needed to be?” She wondered if she had bought the needle elsewhere.

She also has other questions.

“I couldn’t really get any answers as to why this happened. And I still don’t have answers, ”Lannigan said. She would like to know which ingredient in the vaccine caused her reaction and why.

“Extremely rare” reactions

Fatima Tokhmafshan is a Montreal-based geneticist and bioethicist who fights misinformation about COVID-19 on social media platforms, including TikTok. She helped launch COVID-19 Resources Canada, a group that launched a website and holds video meetings to allow experts to answer people’s questions about COVID-19.

She said it is normal and valid to be anxious and to have questions about vaccines, adding that side effects are “extremely rare”.

Tokhmafshan said it is important to stay on top of your own health and to share all of your medical history with those administering a vaccine.

The vaccines are safe, they work, they have been tested rigorously. They are the silver bullet we have in this battle against the pandemic.– Fatima Tokhmafshan

“Vaccines are safe. They work, they have been tested vigorously, ”she said. “They are the silver bullet we have in this battle against the pandemic. ”

Tokhmafshan urges everyone who is offered a vaccine to get it. This is what she herself intends to do, when her turn comes.

“Take heart knowing that people are watching for every reported side effect around the world,” she said.

“The different expert groups, they meet very frequently, we discuss it, we discuss what could be the mechanism of this kind of reaction. So there are unanswered questions for us too, but we are working together to find answers. ”

Monitoring of side effects

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved for use in Canada on December 9, 2020, after scientists completed a two-month review of the company’s clinical trial data and concluded there was no significant safety concerns.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved in Canada in early December 2020. Health Canada subsequently warned that people with allergies to any ingredient in the vaccine should not receive it. (Dado Ruvic / Reuters)

The public began to hear about allergic reactions to the vaccine in early December, when a healthcare worker in Alaska suffered. Later that month, a health worker in Hamilton, Ont., Released her serious reaction.

On December 12, Health Canada issued a safety warning, saying that people allergic to any of the ingredients in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine should not receive it.

Health Canada has been tracking side effects reported from COVID-19 vaccinations since early January. He notes that serious side effects such as allergic reactions are rare and says the benefits of approved vaccines continue to outweigh the risks.

Until March 19, 2021, Health Canada said there had been 2,530 reports of side effects following COVID-19 vaccination – just under 68 reports per 100,000 doses administered. Of these side effects, 320 were considered serious.

Slightly more of these adverse reactions (1,444 including 263 serious) were reported by Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than by Moderna (1,079 including 54 serious). The Covishield vaccine (the version of AstraZeneca from the Serum Institute of India) had a total of five side effects, one of which was serious.

The most frequently reported serious adverse event was anaphylaxis, which occurred in 59 cases, Health Canada said. There have been 24 post-vaccine deaths reported; 13 of them were found to be unrelated to a vaccine, while 11 remain under investigation.

COVID-19 more serious than vaccines

Tokhmafshan encourages everyone to browse the ingredient lists for vaccine varieties on the Health Canada website and share anything that stands out with their healthcare provider. She said the ingredient that could potentially cause an allergic reaction is polyethylene glycol, or PEG, although experts do not yet understand why this can happen.

“Make your decision and get vaccinated,” says Fatima Tokhmafshan, a volunteer expert at (Zoom)

She said some reports of serious adverse events include long-lasting rashes or fevers, and these aren’t that severe when viewed alongside what they’re supposed to prevent.

“You look at the rate at which these side effects are happening and what they are, and you compare it to COVID-19, the disease,” she said. “The risk of experiencing a lot more inconvenience, illness and illness from the virus is much higher than that from the vaccine. ”

Health Canada surveillance

In an email to CBC PEI, a spokesperson for Health Canada said it is closely monitoring the post-market safety and efficacy (i.e. post-authorization) of vaccines. COVID-19 cleared and kept Canadians informed by posting information on adverse events.

Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine ingredients listed on the United States Food and Drug Administration website. (US FDA)

For their part, Pfizer executives said in December that there had been no cases of serious allergic reactions to the vaccine during its advanced clinical trial involving nearly 44,000 volunteers. However, this trial excluded people with a history of serious allergic reactions to any vaccine or to any of the ingredients in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The trial included around 6,000 participants with a range of allergic conditions such as pollen allergies and food allergies. These participants had a history of symptoms, including anaphylaxis, but Pfizer said there were no vaccine-related anaphylactic episodes in the trial.

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