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Allergic reactions to the COVID vaccine may be a high concern for women

Written By | Apr 13, 2021

Thanks to CDC @cdc for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁

SAN DIEGO,  April 13, 2021– As one with a variety of allergies, the prospect of getting a COVID-19 vaccine has been daunting with the possibilities of an allergic reaction.

With the concern for COVID-19 variants afoot, after conducting research and discussing with several experts, it became clear that COVID-19 may be here to stay and that quality of everyday life hinged on being vaccinated.

What it came down to was being vaccinated would dramatically reduce the chances for dying from COVID-19.

The possibility of suffering an allergic reaction to the vaccine

Regardless of the personal choice for a particular vaccine, those who have known allergies will be monitored at the vaccination site for 15-30 minutes, depending upon whether known allergies have been mild or resulted in anaphylaxis.

Note: Throughout this story, content is not an endorsement for Johnson and Johnson or for any particular type of COVID-19 vaccine currently available.

Thanks to Joshua Hoehne @mrthetrain for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁

Single-dose Johnson and Johnson was available and that became my personal choice as there were no known allergens in its contents which were known to be harmful based upon my personal allergy types.

Also, and completely intuitive, the decision to have only a single dose seemed best–and there were no reactions experienced upon vaccination nor upon being observed for 30 minutes.

It is interesting to note that an immediate serious reaction would likely have occurred fairly quickly; or other symptoms would manifest over a 4-hour period with such symptoms as swelling, wheezing, fever, hives and site tenderness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC in January 2021, Allergic reactions were occurring at a rate of 11.1 per million vaccinations for the Pfizer vaccine; and, approximately 2.5 per 1 million for the Moderna vaccine.

Being a woman is another interesting aside in the COVID-19 vaccine discussion.

Some authorities have expressed that females may have a stronger immune response to the vaccines

In CDC data of COVID-19 studies of vaccination side-effects, 79 percent were found to be by women who received approximately 61.2 percent of the doses occurring during the first month of vaccine distribution.

It was further reported that approximately 19 anaphylactic reactions to the Moderna vaccine occurred in women; and, 44 of 47 anaphylactic reactions to the Pfizer vaccine were from women.

There is a variety of speculation about why women are scaling higher on allergic reactions data, with one being men may be hesitant to report it.

Women’s naturally occurring hormones estrogen and progesterone boost immunity, which declines through the aging process.

Thanks to Mat Napo @matnapo for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁

Testosterone in men results in lower natural immunity

Moreover, women have two X chromosomes, while men have only one, and this genetic influence could make a difference in immunity.

Since women are childbearing, it could seem logical that greater immunity would be positive for protectively producing offspring.

It is interesting to note, whether male or female, Allergy and Asthma Network might be helpful in discerning who would benefit from the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or who would be recommended to avoid them.

Those who are recommended may have a history of food, insect venom, oral medications, and/or environmental latex and have anaphylaxis upon receiving the first dose.

Anyone with a history of anaphylaxis to any ingredient contained in Pfizer or Moderna vaccines would be better served by limiting it to the first dose while avoiding the second especially if there is anaphylaxis occurring.

In the event of experiencing a non-severe immediate allergic reaction to the first dose, the second dose would be contraindicated.

If there is any known allergic reaction to polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polysorbate, then neither vaccine would be suitable.

Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is found in both mRNA Pfizer and Moderna vaccines; and polysorbate 80 is an ingredient in Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.

It is highly advisable to seek professional advice from a qualified health care provider whom you trust to discern individual allergies against the contents of any vaccine type prior to making a decision which is right for you.

The CDC recommends that all are monitored at the vaccination site upon receipt of any COVID-19 vaccine, and that the vaccination site be equipped with appropriate medication and supplies to appropriately respond to any possible allergic reaction.

Severe allergic reactions could require emergency medical attention and/or observation in a medical facility for several hours

The good news is that only a small number of allergic reactions have occurred per one million population, and by being proactive and aware, we have the ability to make the best-possible choices.

With appropriate real time reporting of any and all allergic reactions, the NIH has continued to amass data which will hopefully lead to continuously improving COVID-19 vaccines while saving millions of lives in the interim.

Hopefully, continuing research will unlock future cures for cancer, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and more so that the global community will be as free of disease as our research will allow us.

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

(Main image: Thanks to CDC @cdc for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 )

Laurie Edwards-Tate

Since 1984, Laurie Edwards-Tate has served as President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare, a non-medical Home Care Aide Organization, serving seniors, disabled, infirm and children. Laurie is Board of Director 2018 (elected), Palomar Health; Executive Board Member; Chair Board Human Resources Committee; Member of Audits & Compliance Committee; Community Relations Committee.