Economy

Kenyans with egg allergies warned over Covid-19 jab

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Health PS Susan Mochache at a Press briefing on March 3, 2021. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU

Summary

  • If you are allergic to chicken and eggs, then you are ineligible for the Covid-19 vaccine.
  • The Health ministry warned Wednesday that front-line workers with specific allergies should not take the jab.

If you are allergic to chicken and eggs, then you are ineligible for the Covid-19 vaccine.

The Health ministry warned Wednesday that front-line workers with specific allergies should not take the jab.

“There are protocols that have to be followed before one takes the vaccine and if you know that you normally have reactions after taking chicken or eggs, then you should not take up the vaccine,” said Principal Secretary Susan Mochache.

Her caution was echoed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, which said the jab is particularly risky to those “allergic to certain compounds present in the vaccines”.

Some patients, it warned, may develop an anaphylactoid reaction, which tends to involve a skin rash, shortness of breath and sometimes a drop in blood pressure after getting the jab.

According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, people with a history of allergic reactions should still receive the vaccine, but in a medical setting “in case of severe complications”.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines make no mention of those with allergies not to be vaccinated.

Kenya’s caution to people suffering the specific allergies has split expert opinion locally.

“I am not aware of any guidelines requiring people who are allergic to eggs and chicken not to be vaccinated and these are not included in any guidelines,” said Dr Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO, Amref Health Africa and a member of the Covid-19 task force.

Dr Ahmed Kalebi of Lancet Group, however said there was logic to the caution since some vaccines are produced through a cell-based method, where eggs are used.

“They inject the egg with the virus, the virus will multiply and grow in the egg. Once it outgrows, it is then taken outside and purified. During purification, it can no longer be 100 per cent, so there will be some small amount left in it and if someone who is allergic to eggs is injected, then there will be a reaction,” he said.

According to WHO interim guidelines, vaccination of individuals below 18 years is not recommended.