FOOD allergies like that from peanuts are more common than a severe allergic reaction to the Pfizer vaccine for Covid-19, says a health expert.
Consultant paediatrician and neonatologist Datuk Dr Musa Mohd Nordin says the risk of a peanut allergy is about 30,000 in a million.
“It is 6,500 times more likely to happen than an allergic reaction to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“But that has not prevented us from eating peanuts, ” he points out.
With the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the risk is at 4.6 per million, Dr Musa adds.
This is relatively higher than most childhood vaccines, which have a risk of one per million for a severe allergic reaction.
But Dr Musa says people must put things into perspective, using the example of peanut allergies.
However, he says those who have suffered an anaphylactic reaction with other medicines, bites from insects like hornets or food, vaccines or to the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, should abstain from taking the Pfizer vaccine.
“They can nevertheless take the other types of Covid-19 vaccines, including the AstraZeneca vaccine, ” Dr Musa adds.
If one suffers from allergies due to food, medicines, bites or has eczema, they will be required to stay in the hospital or clinic vicinity for at least 30 minutes after the vaccine has been administered.
“It is extremely rare but if it does occur, it will happen within the first 30 minutes and this can be readily reversed with prompt medical attention, ” Dr Musa highlights.
The most common types of side effects for vaccines in general are pain at the injection site, headache, fatigue and muscle pains, he says.
“Sometimes, there is fever and swelling or tenderness at the injection site.
“Virtually, all of these AEFI (adverse events following immunisation) disappear after one to two days, ” he adds.
Dr Musa explains that this shows the body’s immune system responding to the vaccine by producing protective antibodies.
“This inflammatory response produces mediators called cytokines which are responsible for the local and systemic effects which one experiences after the shot.
“Doctors get excited when they feel these signs because they know that their body is kicking in and doing the right thing.
“This means producing protective antibodies and immune memory cells which would be able to remember the coronavirus when it attacks it anytime in the future.
“If however one feels under the weather following the vaccine shots, one can take some paracetamol to reduce the fever and pain, ” he advises.
After receiving the jab, Malaysian Medical Association president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy advises everybody to keep well hydrated and take paracetamol if there is pain or if the fever is severe.
“The vaccines given conditional approval by our National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) are very safe.
“At present, there are no vaccines for sale, so don’t be fooled by anyone offering vaccines for a fee, ” he warns.