(Island Health // Annie Taal)

A Vancouver Island woman who suffered an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine says she has no regrets getting the jab.

In May, Annie Taal, a 32-year-old Victoria resident, received her first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Eight minutes after receiving the jab, Taal said she started to feel her lips go numb, and more than 15 minutes later, after leaving the Archie Browning Centre where she received the vaccine, she began to experience a loss of breath and a feeling she characterized as a sunburn.

Taal returned to the Archie Browning Centre where she was into a private area by nurses and treated.

Turns out, Taal was experiencing an anaphylactic shock.

Island Health said that about 1 in 100,000 people have experienced this reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine. And it’s exactly this reaction that has fuelled vaccine-hesitancy across the world.

Before getting the vaccine, Taal took the right precautions by asking both doctors and her sister, a public health nurse, on whether it was safe for her to receive.

Despite her serious allergies, doctors recommended the vaccine.

Back at Archie Browning, Taal said the nurses treated her with epinephrine – a common anaphylactic treatment – and called her sister.

“They were so wonderful and wanted to ensure I wasn’t having a panic attack, which can resemble an allergic reaction. They calmed me down, called my sister and administered epinephrine. Paramedics then took me to Victoria General Hospital for observation.”

From there, an immunologist in Victoria determined it was safe for Taal to receive a second dose of vaccine by using a technique called graded-dose administration – a technique where the full dose is separated into smaller doses and provided over a span of time with close monitoring.

Taal has received her second dose and now she’s sharing her story in hopes that people feel safe to get their shots.

“I have no regrets at all. I really don’t. I was safe and cared for and I personally believe those mechanisms were also in place during the production of the vaccines,” Taal says.

“I understand the fear and uncertainty many people are feeling – but the fact-based evidence shows us the vaccines are safe and they are the best way for us to move forward through the pandemic.”

Taal, now being fully-vaccinated, is both sharing her story and participating in a study of people who have experienced allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I am grateful to be part of this study because we really don’t know yet why some people have these rare reactions,” she says. “If I can help just one person feel safer about getting their shot, it will be worth it.”

As of this publication, 10% of British Columbians in the province are unvaccinated.

A video from Island Health is available regarding Annie Taal’s story.

Check it out here.

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