An immuno-compromised woman who had a bad reaction to her first AstraZeneca shot months ago expects to receive a second dose of Pfizer later this week following changes to advice on vaccine mixing.
Dolores Grace (46), a mother of four from Athboy, Co Meath, says she has been stuck between “a rock and a hard place” since being advised not to have the second AstraZeneca shot after falling ill after the first in March.
She suffered a severe headache and high blood pressure and needed hospital treatment afterwards and has since been concerned that she has little protection against the Delta variant given the current high infection numbers.
“Not having that piece of paper excludes you from so much and I got so anxious last week as the Covid-19 case numbers were so high — I was sure I’d be the one to end up in ICU,” she said.
“I have several medical conditions including Sjogrens and Rheumatoid Arthritis and I’ve had a blood clot in the past that caused heart failure.”
Ms Grace sought to get the second shot at a walk-in vaccination centre at Fairyhouse on Saturday but was turned away.
She had a letter from her GP recommending that she get a different brand of vaccine for her second dose and was told by the HSE helpline that she met all the criteria to attend. She spent time last week calling the HSE helpline and speaking to doctors after it was announced that health authorities had sanctioned the mixing of vaccines.
“I rang the helpline three times in the last week and on Friday I was told that I met all the criteria needed to get a vaccine at the clinic. I was over 16-years-old, hadn’t received a vaccine in the last 20 days and wanted the Pfizer vaccine.”
However, Ms Grace was told by a doctor at the centre that she could not receive a Pfizer shot as there was no system in place yet to allow vaccine mixing. She said she received a phone call later on Saturday offering her an appointment for her second dose in Dublin on Tuesday.
“Because of my experiences to date, I’m not jumping for joy yet. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and take a cautious approach in the hope that everything will go to plan this time,” she said. “I need to get my life back and have the same life as everyone else has — for me and for my family.”
In a statement the HSE said advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) on “heterologous (mixed) vaccination was considered and authorised by the Department of Health in recent days.
“The Department of Health and the HSE are in regular contact regarding general planning matters and as with all NIAC advice, the HSE will work to operationalise these recommendations as soon as is practical. ”