As companies continue to increase vaccination mandates to combat the contagious delta variant, some institutions are giving employees the option of refusing to be vaccinated if they have a medical exemption.
“Other than age, there are no major exemptions that cover large groups of people,” he told ABC News.
Current guidelines from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that the two-dose mRNA vaccines and the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine are safe for almost all patients.
The only major contraindication to the vaccines listed by the CDC is a severe allergic reaction to the first dose. In these cases, the person is advised to see a doctor and withhold their second dose, according to Dowdy.
“We’re not talking about some people who had injection site pain or a rash, we’re talking about anaphylactic shock,” he said.
Dowdy said data so far shows this severe allergy is rare and that less than 1 in 1 million people have it.
Dr Jeff Linder, chief of general internal medicine and geriatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told ABC News that research so far shows that those with a severe allergic reaction are likely triggered by the polyethylene glycol (PEG), a component of vaccines.
“An allergy to this is quite rare,” he told ABC News. “This should be documented, as a moderate or severe allergy, before I consider granting a medical exemption.”
Overall, COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people with “moderate to severe immune degradation,” underlying conditions, pregnant women, women trying to get pregnant, and nursing mothers, according to the CDC .
Linder said these populations are most vulnerable to serious illness and death from the coronavirus and that it is important that they get vaccinated.
“Anyone who says, ‘I have a health problem’, that’s more of a reason to get the vaccine,” he said.
The CDC has put in place additional precautions for people with certain medical conditions. For example, people with a history of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) are advised to be vaccinated with mRNA if they are found within 90 days of illness, the CDC said. Women over 50 are also warned of a potential risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) if they choose the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the CDC.
The agency currently advises against getting the vaccine immediately in two circumstances.
If a person is currently diagnosed with COVID-19 or in quarantine for a suspected case, they are advised to be vaccinated until the end of the quarantine period, according to agency guidelines. If a patient receives monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma for COVID-19 treatment, they are advised to suspend their vaccine appointment for 90 days, the CDC said.
Dowdy said neither of the two scenarios should prevent someone from getting the shot once they’re eligible.
“People ask, ‘If I have contracted COVID in the past, can I get the vaccine? “The answer is yes, receiving the vaccine adds additional protection,” he said.
Dr Jay Bhatt, a physician in internal medicine, instructor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health and contributor to ABC News, added that special attention should be paid to patients awaiting transplants. organ, have recently received an organ transplant, or are receiving treatment for metastatic cancer. These patients should speak with their doctor and establish a schedule for the earliest and safest time to get their vaccines.
“It’s less about not getting vaccinated, it’s more about knowing when they want to do it,” he said. “If they’re being processed… you want to make sure they’re located appropriately. “
The researchers say it’s highly unlikely that this list of medical exemptions will change in the near future. More than 178 million Americans over the age of 12 have been fully immunized since December and there have been no reports of adverse effects in patients with health conditions so far, according to Linder.
“The idea that we are missing something that is even rare or serious seems very unlikely to me,” he said.
Linder recommended anyone who is still hesitant to get a vaccine for a medical problem to see their doctor and review the data that has largely shown vaccines to be safe.
“The risk of COVID is still high,” he said. “At the end of the day, we know that COVID vaccines are very effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths. “
Anyone who needs help scheduling a free vaccine appointment can visit vaccines.gov.