Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh MP.

The Health Ministry is contacting the World Health Organisation (WHO) for information on how COVID-19 vaccines might be administered to people with allergies.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh confirmed this when asked about citizens’ concerns over whether those with allergies will be able to take the vaccine which Government will be getting in 2021.

Last week, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said by the first quarter of 2021, T&T should be in line to get its vaccines. The Health Ministry’s estimated that by March or so, vaccines may arrive.

However, the Wall Street Journal last week reported on public health authorities in the US and UK each offering conflicting advice on vaccines’ effects on people suffering from allergies.

The WSJ noted the U.’s medical regulator had warned people with severe allergies to food, vaccines or medicine, against getting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. This was after four severe allergic reactions by recipients.

But the WSJ also noted that in contrast, US Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada have advised only against administering the injection to people with a known history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine itself.

This has caused confusion among some US and UK patients. The WSJ quoted a US woman who is allergic to pistachios and penicillin, who said the UK incident worried her.

Deyalsingh yesterday couldn’t say which vaccine T&T would get or what alternatives may be offered for those with allergies unable to take a vaccine.

But he said yesterday’s Health meeting listed issues concerning the vaccine that have to be dealt with and the ministry is seeking information from WHO on the allergy issue – and also if the vaccine will cover the new COVID strain recently discovered in the UK and South Africa.

According to reports, that virus, which is no more dangerous than the current global COVID strain, is more easily transmissible – and because of that children may be more at risk.

“The answer to all of these technical questions will have to come from WHO and we’ve asked for that information (yesterday morning),” Deyalsingh said.

He noted the Chief Medical Officer last weekend indicated additional data will have to be obtained to see if the vaccine will cover the new strain.

Asked which one of the vaccine types T&T would get, Deyalsingh said no vaccine was approved by WHO and whatever they approved, T&T would get.

Since Government doesn’t yet know what type of vaccine T&T will get – whether the Pfizer, Moderna or Astra Zeneca one – the issue of cost is not yet known, he added. Government a few months ago indicated 400,000 vaccines will be obtained. Frontline workers, including health care personnel, the elderly and those with immune-compromised systems will receive vaccines first. (Gail Alexander)