I am Valérie Allusson, Chief Medical Officer at Mountainside Medical Center and a member of the Board of Directors here at the YMCA of Montclair. Thank you to everyone who submitted questions on our “Ask the Doctor” portal. Today, I am answering questions from our community about COVID-19 vaccine contraindications, or conditions where one should not receive the vaccine due to risk of harm
1. I had Guillain-Barre I believe as a result of taking the swine flu shot many years ago. I am extremely afraid any other flu shot might cause a similar reaction and therefore have not taken any shots since then. What is your opinion, please, on my possibly taking the Covid vaccine in light of this information?
I understand your concern as Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) can be very scary and debilitating. To date, no cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) have been reported following vaccination among participants in the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials (Pfizer and Moderna trials). I advise you to speak to your primary care physician to make the decision that is best for you.
It is known that there is a low or negligible risk of re-developing GSB after a flu shot. While there is a small risk of GBS associated with influenza vaccination, if you have had GBS, carefully discuss the pros and cons of the flu vaccine with your doctor.
2. Should babies be vaccinated?
The COVID-19 vaccines have only be tested on non-pregnant adults. At this time it is not recommended to vaccinate any children under 16 years of age. We will need to wait for separate clinical trials studying children’s responses to the vaccines. In addition, adults are at a much higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 illness than children.
3. I have an allergy to the flu vaccine. I was wondering if I can get the Covid vaccine? It is not a contra-indication to receive COVID 19 vaccine. It is however a precaution and you should speak to your primary care physician. Your physician will counsel you about the potential risks of developing a severe allergic reaction and balance these risks against the benefits of vaccination. Deferral of vaccination and/or consultation with an allergist-immunologist may be considered.
CDC considers a history of the following to be a contraindication to vaccination with both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines:
- Severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components
- Immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a previous dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components (including polyethylene glycol [PEG])
- Immediate allergic reaction of any severity to polysorbate (due to potential cross-reactive hypersensitivity with the vaccine ingredient PEG)
I invite you to continue sending questions regarding health your interest here. I look forward to answering your questions.
Thank you and stay well,
Valérie Allusson, M.D.