“The day I had my anaphylactic reaction to the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, I told my husband neither I nor our 10- and 8-year-old boys were ever getting a vaccine again. I was just too scared.”
Karen Tantzen shares what happened next thanks to her relationship with Kathryn Neupert, MD, pediatric allergy and immunology physician with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health.
“I began seeing Dr. Neupert in March or April of 2021 to test for a possible allergen, polysorbate 80, in the J&J vaccine that is also an ingredient in the flu vaccine. I asked her if my children could inherit my allergy, and she very kindly explained that allergies are unique to yourself and your immune system and there was no medical reason to not vaccinate my children against COVID-19 once the FDA approved a vaccine for their age group. She also explained that my allergy testing was negative, meaning there was no medical reason to avoid the flu vaccine. She recommended I get the flu vaccine when it became available in the fall and said that I could have the vaccine administered in her office.
“The way Dr. Neupert listened and then kindly and confidently communicated with me gave me the confidence to not only get a flu shot for myself but also for my children. She also gave me the confidence to vaccinate my children against COVID-19, and I did so the very week that the Pfizer vaccine was authorized for kids 5-11.
“Additionally, Dr. Neupert helped me make the decision to get a COVID booster after the CDC recommended them and also said patients could be boosted with a different vaccine brand than the one they initially received in their first series.
“Before I got boosted, though, Dr. Neupert recommended I get tested for an allergy for polyethylene glycol, an ingredient in the MRNA vaccines that may be linked to anaphylactic reactions to the Pfizer and Moderna shots. She explained that the substance is similar to the substance in the J&J vaccine that is linked to anaphylactic reactions.
“Today I completed my polyethylene glycol allergy testing and passed with flying colors. Dr. Neupert emphasized, however, that even though she knew I wanted to get boosted, that the allergy testing didn’t conclusively rule out an adverse reaction to the Pfizer or Moderna shot. She told me I could schedule a time to get the vaccine in the pharmacy and be observed in her office. I asked if I could just get it today and be observed in the pharmacy, since I had the courage to get it done ASAP. She said yes, so long as I made sure to explain my history to the pharmacy and stayed 30 minutes after it was administered.
“A few minutes later, I was downstairs in the pharmacy getting my Pfizer booster. I made sure the pharmacist knew my history, and she must have checked on me personally every five minutes while I waited half an hour after getting the shot. She, too, was very caring.
“Now I’m home, excited that not only me but my children also have the best possible protection against both COVID-19 and the flu, when my gut reaction after my anaphylactic reaction nearly a year ago was to avoid all vaccines moving forward.
“Dr. Neupert listens and communicates kindly and confidently. She always explains medical facts in an easy-to-understand way. She’s the reason my kids and I are best protected against COVID and the flu.”