MANILA — The Department of Health on Wednesday explained that people with food allergies can still take COVID-19 vaccines as long as they get clearance from their doctors.
This following reports of alleged allergic reactions to vaccines like Pfizer's. Pfizer already advised authorities not to give the vaccine to those with severe allergic reactions.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that this refers to anaphylactic shock or an allergic reaction that causes difficulty in breathing, increased heart rate and a swollen throat that may block airways.
“Yun po talagang main contraindication ng bakuna ay severe allergic reaction. Ibig sabihin po, kapag kayo ay nabigyan ng bakuna in the past o kaya sa component ng bakunang ito ay maaaring magkaroon ng severe allergic reaction,” she said during a Laging Handa briefing.
(The main contraindication for the vaccine is severe allergic reaction. This means that if you were given a vaccine in the past or a component of the vaccine may cause you severe allergic reaction.)
Vergeire said those with allergies to polyethylene glycol, one of the components of Pfizer’s vaccine, should also avoid the vaccine.
Those with allergies to food and drugs may simply ask for an assessment or a certification from their doctor that they can receive the vaccine, she added.
Another DOH official said that allergy tests are not usually required for vaccinations, but they may release specific guidelines for each vaccine. Recipients are also asked to stay at the vaccination site for up to 1 hour later for observation.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said during a televised event in Taguig that health workers are ready for adverse events, and that ambulances and referral hospitals will be on standby.
Besides Pfizer, there have also been reports of possible allergic reactions to Moderna’s vaccine, which also uses the new RNA-based type vaccines. Both vaccines have reported high efficacy rates of around 95%, although their cold storage requirements are challenging for some countries.
The Philippines will gets its first batch of around 1 million COVID-19 vaccine shots next month, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. said.
Galvez said he was negotiating with pharmaceutical firms to get 200,000 to 500,000 doses from UK's AstraZeneca for health workers, 500,000 jabs from Chinese firm Sinovac, and an unspecified number of shots from Pfizer.
The Philippine government aims to vaccinate up 70 million people against the new coronavirus this year to achieve herd immunity.
It is working to lock in 148 million doses from 7 vaccine makers, on top of 40 million shots that will come from the Covax Facility, a global initiative that aims to ensure equitable access to the vaccines, said Galvez.
The Philippines has logged 516,166 confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of Tuesday, including 30,357 active infections, 10,386 deaths, and 475,423 recoveries.
The tally includes 17 cases of the new, more transmissible variant first detected late last year in the United Kingdom.
Several other countries, including immediate neighbors of the Philippines, have already started their respective vaccination programs.