Covid-19 (Allergic Reaction to Vaccine)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 29th September 2021.

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Photo of Meghan Gallacher Meghan Gallacher Conservative

2. To ask the Scottish Government how many systemic reaction specialists there are who can support people who have had an allergic reaction to their first Covid-19 vaccine. (S6O-00202)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

The Government does not hold centrally information on how many systemic reaction specialists are available, but that information would be available at national health service board level.

Allergy to food and medicine is not uncommon and those types of conditions are treated by a variety of clinicians in primary and secondary care. NHS health boards lead on local delivery of the vaccination programme and are well placed to support people who have concerns about allergic reactions, as well as those who have experienced allergic reactions.

It is important that people discuss their allergies and disclose any previous serious allergic reactions or anaphylaxis to their vaccinator. The vaccinators are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately. If a person has concerns about receiving their first Covid-19 vaccination because of a potential allergy, they should ask their general practitioner or clinician for advice.

Photo of Meghan Gallacher Meghan Gallacher Conservative

My constituent, Craig, contacted me after experiencing a severe systemic allergic reaction to his first vaccination. He was referred to a specialist, but was advised that he was going to be put on an 18-month waiting list.

That is not an isolated case and the situation is causing concern for people who are eager to see a specialist, especially as Covid vaccination passports will come into force this Friday. I have checked the Scottish Government website this afternoon, and the guidance is still not clear for people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons. How will the Scottish Government tackle that backlog? How can the cabinet secretary reassure my constituent that he will not be excluded from any venue, such as a nightclub or football stadium, because he cannot produce a vaccination passport?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I thank Meghan Gallacher for raising the issue of her constituent, Craig. I am more than happy for her to write to me about the specifics of his case.

As members might imagine, I have spoken extensively to clinicians about the issue of allergic reactions to the Covid vaccine. There have been cases in which people have had an adverse reaction when they were given their first dose, but were able successfully to complete their second dose once they had had appropriate clinical advice or, in some cases, had had a change of vaccine, if that was necessary.

I am as concerned as Meghan Gallacher is about the circumstances that she mentioned. In answer to the second part of her question, a medical exemption process will be in place for anybody who is clinically unable to have the vaccine—although those numbers should be very small.

Photo of Martin Whitfield Martin Whitfield Labour

With regard to the answer to the second part of the question, will the medical exemption be available by 5 am on Friday?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Absolutely. People who have been identified by health boards as being unable to complete vaccination for good clinical reasons—again, I note that the numbers are very small—will have received notice by the time the scheme comes into effect. In fact, letters will be going out to them very shortly.

Only a very small number of people cannot complete both doses of the vaccine. As I mentioned in my answer to Meghan Gallacher, there are instances of people who have had quite severe allergic reactions to their first dose being able, through clinical guidance, to receive a second dose successfully.