'I have no regrets at all': Victoria woman suffers allergic reaction to COVID-19 vaccine
A 32-year-old Victoria woman says she has no regrets about getting a COVID-19 vaccine, despite suffering an extremely rare allergic reaction after her first shot.
Annie Taal got her first dose at the Archie Browning centre in Esquimalt in late May. She began to feel sick within minutes of leaving the vaccine centre, according to Island Health.
“I couldn’t take a deep breath," she told the health authority, which shared her story in a media release Wednesday. "I was winded and felt like I had a sunburn."
Taal returned to the recreation centre where nurses determined she was having an anaphylactic reaction to the vaccine.
The Victoria woman was diagnosed with serious allergies as a teenager and had asked her doctor whether or not she should get the COVID-19 vaccine, Island Health says.
She was advised that the risks of contracting COVID-19 far outweighed those of an allergic reaction, according to the health authority.
“I have no regrets at all," Taal said. "I understand the fear and uncertainty many people are feeling, but the fact-based evidence shows us the vaccines are safe and they are the best way for us to move forward through the pandemic.”
Taal was taken to Victoria General Hospital for observation after nurses at the recreation centre treated her.
She was later referred to an immunologist in Victoria to determine if she could receive a second dose of vaccine. They used a technique called graded-dose administration – where the full dose is separated into smaller doses and provided over a span of time with close monitoring – and Taal is now fully vaccinated, according to Island Health.
Taal was asked to participate in a study of people who have experienced an allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine.
“I am grateful to be part of this study because we really don’t know yet why some people have these rare reactions,” she said. “If I can help just one person feel safer about getting their shot, it will be worth it.”
Dr. Michael Benusic with Island Health says a very small number of people will react to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Severe allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are very rare – about 1 in 100,000 people will react," Benusic said. "Our vaccination sites are set up to identify and respond to this when it occurs, which is exactly what happened with this patient."
A spokesperson for Island Health declined to say how many similar allergic reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine have been recorded in the island region, instead referring the question to the BC Centre for Disease Control.
Island Health says approximately 10 per cent of Vancouver Island residents remain unvaccinated. The health authority says the unvaccinated "are experiencing the vast majority of COVID-19 hospitalizations, critical care admissions, and deaths in critical care."