Health Team

Duke doctor with allergies: Do your homework before getting vaccine

Posted January 5, 2021 5:50 p.m. EST
Updated January 5, 2021 6:41 p.m. EST

— Many people are allergic to something. Medical studies suggest about 2% of Americans have allergies so severe that they can be deadly.

A frontline doctor at Duke is in that 2%, and had to decide whether to gamble with getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I have history of anaphylaxis reaction, which is a severe allergy," said Dr. Leonor Corsino, an adult endocrinologist at Duke University Hospital.

She did not get her shot like most health officials did during the first week of the Pfizer rollout.

“I was a little bit nervous to be honest," she said.

Yet, her history of a known severe allergy didn’t stop her from participating in the global health initiative.

“I have to say my first dose went well. I didn’t have any major reactions," she said.

There are rare reports of side effects after the vaccine. A few healthcare workers experienced shortness of breath, lightheadedness and elevated heart rates. Since that time, the CDC has set new guidelines.

Anyone with previous severe reactions to vaccines should talk to their doctor before getting vaccinated. Those who are severely allergic to any of the ingredients included in the Pfizer or Moderna shots should skip the vaccine.

Corsino said everyone gets monitored for up to 30 minutes after receiving the shot, and every vaccination site has the medication on hand to treat an allergic reaction.

"I don’t want this to derail people from getting it," she said. "My message is to do your homework and make an informed decision if this is right for you.”

And for Corsino, the benefits of the vaccine far outweighed the risks. As she prepares for her second dose next week, she encourages people to trust the science.

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