As Malta gets ready to limit social life for people who aren’t adequately vaccinated, a woman has criticised the health authorities for refusing to grant her a booster exemption even though she had suffered serious reactions to the first two jabs.
“Two hours after my first Pfizer dose back in March, I felt like the back of my tongue was being continuously pricked by a needle,” Maria* told Lovin Malta.
“The feeling lasted for approximately a week and since I did not connect it with the jab, I did not report it.”
However, she said she felt the same side effects again around 20 minutes after receiving her second jab. This time, she reported it to the supervising nurse and was directed to another section of the room so as to be examined and treated accordingly.
“What I did not know at that time (for I had no mirror) was that my face was fiery red, swollen and I had a light rash. As a result, I was given the Epinephrine injection,” Maria recounted.
“During the night and the following day I had a fever. I was so weak that I could not even stand up alone to go to the bathroom. I felt like I was going to die. Even raising my hand felt like a big feat. I had never felt so weak in my life”.
Maria, who is is allergic to a large variety of medications, including penicilin and anti-histamine medication, was notably concerned for her health and contacted her GP, who gave her a a medical certificate advising against administering her with the booster dose.
She contacted the health authorities who informed her that she should be given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine booster in a hospital setting, as she was unable to take any of the other booster doses.
However, she then received an email informing her that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine booster dose was not available in stock. After contacting the health authorities again, she was informed that she should take the Moderna booster dose instead.
This confused Maria because the CDC (the US health protection agency) states that anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis, to one type of COVID-19 vaccine should not receive a second dose of that type of vaccine.
The CDC classifies the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as one type (mRNA) of vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine another type (viral vector).
She tried to obtain an official exemption from the health authorities but was told over the phone that she doesn’t qualify for one because she didn’t suffer a reaction immediately after her first dose.
This is in line with Malta’s official COVID-19 vaccine standards, which state that exemptions on medical grounds are only justified when “the first dose of vaccine caused immediate severe anaphylaxis requiring medical treatment”.
As Maria only suffered a reaction two hours after her first dose and immediately after her second dose, she wasn’t eligible for this exemption.
Maria’s doctor has informed her that she would be able to take the Novavax vaccine, which was recently authorised by the European Medicines Agency.
However, as this is not yet available in Malta and as the health authorities are refusing to grant her an exemption, Maria is facing the prospect of being shut out of large parts of social life in a few hours’ time.
*Her name has been changed
What do you make of Maria’s case?