A new initiative helps allergy sufferers overcome the fear of vaccinations due to the lack of knowledge regarding possible allergic reactions.
Many people in the general population in Israel suffer from allergic reactions that result from the exposure to medications, remedies, food, and even insect bites. For some individuals, a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction may develop. Despite access to a vaccine against COVID-19, some of these people fear that the vaccination may cause an acute allergic reaction. This fear prevents them from getting vaccinated, and places them at risk. Dr. Eduardo Shahar, Director of the Clinical Immunology, Allergy and AIDS Unit at Rambam Health Care Campus, recently launched a new service to assist these individuals by performing an allergy test for the substances that comprise the vaccine designated for the coronavirus and providing the vaccine under close medical supervision.
The new service, which is performed in an outpatient setting in Rambam’s allergy clinic, does not require hospitalization. After the patient is received in the system, a number of skin tests are performed, using the same vial of the vaccine that the patient would receive, in order to rule out any allergic reaction to the vaccine components. The vaccine is prepared by a pharmacist from the hospital's pharmacy. Upon receiving the result indicating that the patient has had no allergic reaction, the green light is given for the patient to be vaccinated by a nurse, under the supervision of a paramedic who is in the clinic throughout the procedure. Social workers who specialize in treating anxiety are also present to provide additional support.
Each vaccinated person remains under observation in the clinic for about an hour, after which, they are allowed to go home with the approval of the clinic doctor. Prior to leaving, an appointment is made for the individual to receive the second dose of the vaccine, following the same procedure. Upon release, the unit staff is available for these patients, including receiving reports about any side effects they may be experiencing as a result of the vaccine.
“The hospital's special medical assistance and the professionalism of the Clinical Immunology Unit allow us to provide hope for an entire public who wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19, without having to worry about possible, life-threatening allergic reactions to one of the vaccine components,” explains Dr. Shahar. “I invite everyone who is facing these types of allergy issues, anyone who has had an allergic reaction in their past, to come to Rambam to benefit from the service being provided by a team that specializes in precisely these matters, for the sake of their health and that of their loved ones.”