It is Friday 25 June when the 31-year-old Marilijn receives her first vaccination. She had been looking forward to this moment, because she wants to contribute to the fight against the corona virus and she wants to be able to participate in society again just like everyone else. But shortly after she gets her shot with Pfizer, things go awry. “I felt nauseous, got tingling hands and I immediately noticed that this was a different reaction than I was used to after a vaccination.”
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At first she thought it was a side effect, but when she later sat in the car, her tongue swelled and her throat seemed to tighten. “I got into a slight panic: nothing serious is going to happen to me, is it?” When she arrives at home, she calls the GP post. A severe allergic reaction was the first conclusion on the other end of the line. Medications subsequently brought the Nijmegen woman back on track, but a second vaccination is no longer possible.
Second shot life-threatening
“The next day I immediately called the doctor from the GGD about the continuation of the vaccination process. He was clear: the second vaccination would be life-threatening for me.” So she can forget a second shot, but no one can tell her how it goes. Of course there will be a visit to the allergist to find out what triggered the reaction, but she can only go there in six months.
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Besides the fact that no one can tell her how she can still be fully protected against the virus, it also has practical consequences. “I can’t get that vaccination certificate, while my family can. I think that’s really stupid. Because I’m really not the only one this happens to. Sure, it’s rare; an allergic reaction. It happens to most people luckily no, but if it happens you’re screwed in two ways.”
Marilijn was told that there are hundreds of people in this situation. Also at Lareb, the side effects center where these kinds of reactions can also be reported, almost 200 people have reported with similar complaints.
RIVM: No alternative yet for people who get a serious allergic reaction
Inquiries with a GGD doctor show that it is a complex situation. The RIVM also has no solution yet. “There is now no alternative for people who really get a severe allergic reaction,” a spokesperson said Broadcasting Gelderland know.
The question of whether this group of people could receive a different vaccine as a second dose, for example, has not yet been answered. “We are still waiting for advice from the Health Council for this retro-logical vaccination, but even then the question remains what caused the allergic reaction and will you not get that from another vaccine?” However, they emphasize at RIVM that a single injection also provides some protection.
No vaccination passport
But with that partial protection, Marilijn does not yet receive the two green ticks that are needed for a vaccination passport according to the current rules. “I would really like to be fully vaccinated, but it is not possible, there is no protocol for it. July 30 I would get the second shot, I was really looking forward to that. On holiday with my family and join the rest, I really upset about it.”
De Nijmeegse hopes that the government will come up with something for these cases. For the time being, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport does not seem to have the answer. Despite repeated requests from our editors, no substantive response was forthcoming.
Also see: ‘We are not there yet’, experts warn against delta variant of coronavirus