Allergy experts encourage Covid-19 vaccination

The Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (PSAAI) has reassured the public that the benefits of Covid-19 vaccines “far outweigh” the potential risks of adverse reactions, as well as the risk of developing severe Covid-19 or death.

At the recent DOH media forum, PSAAI President and National Adverse Event Following Immunization Committee member, Dr. Rommel Lobo, presented the association’s position statement after recent reports of possible adverse reactions to Covid-19 vaccines raised public concern.

“In general, vaccines are safe and effective. Vaccination saves lives. For the Filipinos, we will only give vaccines that are proven to be safe and effective. And vaccination is free and will be made available for all Filipinos starting with high-risk sectors such as health workers and then senior citizens,” Lobo said.

“Majority of Covid-19 vaccine adverse reactions are mild. Reactogenic reactions include pain, tenderness, and swelling and can be managed with supportive care. Mild allergic reactions such as rashes can be managed with antihistamines,” he added.

Lobo said their organization has examined relevant information to offer reassurance that the vaccines can be administered safely even to people with food or medication allergies. He stressed, however, that healthcare practitioners should observe vaccinees for at least 30 minutes post-vaccination. He said that while the risk of anaphylaxis is rare, it should be recognized and managed promptly with Epinephrine.

He added that anaphylaxis is the only contraindication for some Covid-19 vaccines and healthcare practitioners who will do the vaccination should be sufficiently trained to properly recognize and manage anaphylaxis.

Lobo added that vaccination centers must be equipped with the proper medications necessary to manage immediate allergic reactions.

He said vaccines that have been granted an emergency use authorization by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration followed an open and transparent review process and thorough evaluation from scientific and public health experts to ensure that safety and effectiveness are met.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the added protection of the Covid-19 vaccine will bring the Philippines one step closer to resuming a more normal life.

Vergeire, however, stressed the need to still practice consistent use of face masks and face shields, physical distancing of at least one meter, and proper and frequent handwashing which are all vital tools for the country’s overall recovery.