PETALING JAYA: Malaysians with allergies must have their medical history assessed by their doctors before they get their Covid-19 jabs, say the Health Ministry and medical experts.
Experts also said that having allergies does not necessarily mean that an individual should not take the vaccine, especially if the allergic reactions are unrelated to vaccines.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said those who are to be vaccinated will need to disclose their full medical history to their doctors.
“A complete assessment will be done by the doctor on site, ” he said, adding that those who have allergies should first consult with the doctors.
He added that there will also be a recovery bay where all those who have been vaccinated will be observed for 30 minutes.
Consultant clinical microbiologist Prof Dr Zamberi Sekawi of Universiti Putra Malaysia said that a person who has received other non-Covid-19 vaccines before should not encounter any problem with the Covid-19 jab.
“For the new Pfizer vaccine, there may be certain ingredients that are different such as the lipid content.
“However, the ingredients in vaccines are fairly standard, so if they have had no problems with other vaccines previously, most likely they will have no problem with this one, ” he said.
He said that those with allergies to non-medical items such as dust, peanut or seafood, are unlikely to experience severe allergic reactions from the vaccine.
“This is not like the usual allergies where one may experience rash or itchiness – those are mild.
“Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) is life-threatening, but it is really rare. Even if an individual has experienced anaphylaxis before, they must identify what caused it.
“For example, the severe allergic reaction may be caused by peanuts, but there would not be any peanuts in the vaccines, ” he said.
Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said the risk of getting a very severe allergic reaction from the vaccine is “very small”.
He said about six anaphylactic reactions are triggered per million doses of the vaccine administered.
“Even if you have an allergy, you can be vaccinated but you would have to discuss with the doctors first and they will ask many questions, ” he said.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba yesterday clarified that those with allergies can still receive the Covid-19 jab, provided that they are not allergic to the ingredients of the particular vaccine they receive.
“Can a person receive a Covid-19 vaccine if he or she has experienced a serious allergic reaction to any vaccine, medicine or food product?
“The answer is yes, as long as the vaccine does not contain the same ingredients as the vaccine, medicine, or food product that had (previously) caused an allergic reaction, ” he said in a video on Twitter.
According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, those who have had an allergic reaction to other types of vaccine must ask their doctor if they should get the vaccine.