Do NHS Exemptions from the Covid vaccines really exist?

Experience of retired NHS employee with severe allergies suggests not

Recently published in the Conservative Woman was an extraordinary account by a woman with a history of severe allergies who nevertheless was refused an NHS vaccine exemption. 

Having several years ago suffered life-threatening anaphylaxis to an antibiotic containing polyethylene glycol (a component of the Pfizer jab) and also prolonged vomiting after Hepatitis A vaccine (which contains polysorbate found in AstraZeneca), she now carries an adrenaline EpiPen.  In January 2021, her GP agreed she should certainly not have any of the vaccines on offer.

But roll on a year and her efforts to get a vaccination exemption for travel met with a very different response. Far from signing the appropriate exemption form, her GP insisted on referring her to an immunologist who was eager to arrange for her to vaccinated under medical supervision in the local hospital.  And when she not unreasonably declined the offer, her GP has told her she is not eligible for an exemption. 

The MHRA information specifies ‘COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 should not be given if you are allergic to the active substance or any of the other ingredients of this medicine, listed in section 6.’ 

Similar advice is contained regarding AstraZeneca which states, ‘Do not have the vaccine if you are allergic to any of the active substances

Moreover the government guidance on medical reasons for vaccination exemption includes, ‘a person with severe allergies to all currently available vaccines’

But despite listing such allergies as a contraindication, the vaccine information leaflet states under warnings and precautions, ‘Tell your doctor, pharmacist or nurse before vaccination: 

If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction after any other vaccine injection or after you were given COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in the past.  In other words, a past history of allergy is a contraindication to the first dose, but an allergic reaction to the first dose is only a reason to speak to your doctor but not a contraindication to a second dose? 

This brings us full circle to informed consent and a timely reminder that all risks must be fully discussed as relevant to the individual and balanced against the risks of not proceeding and explaining any alternative treatments.. For this lady, would the risk of catching and becoming seriously ill with omicron genuinely outweigh her risks for anaphylaxis? Would checking her vitamin D levels and providing supplements if needed, be a safer alternative?

Moreover, how is the NHS able to provide such a service, despite apparently under pressure of being overwhelmed, plus the reported huge backlog. 

Above all, it begs the question, whatever happened to ‘First, do no harm’?  

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