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'The vaccine is imperative' | Houston woman who says she had allergic reaction has advice for others

Raana Bell said she doesn’t want to scare people by sharing her story, but she feels there should be more transparency about COVID-19 vaccines.

HOUSTON — A Houston woman with a history of allergic reactions says she had an allergic reaction after she got the COVID-19 vaccine.

Raana Bell said she got the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine last Wednesday through Houston Methodist. She has underlying medical conditions, so she is eligible to get the vaccine as part of group 1B.

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“Knowing there was a vaccine coming was, to me, lifesaving. It really was,” Bell said.

She said she noticed the allergic reaction soon after the injection.

“Within 15 to 20 minutes of my half-hour wait, I started feeling burning on the left side of my arm and the left side of my body. My chest started feeling very tight. I know what this kind of reaction feels like from reactions I’ve had to other medications,” Bell said.

She was taken to the emergency room and she says she was treated with a steroid, Benadryl, Zofran and nebulizer treatment.

“I was by myself because they don’t let anyone else in, so that was also scary. Once I got the breathing treatment and I could relax a little bit, I felt a little bit more in control,” she said.

Luckily, she was able to go home that night. She feels much better, but some side effects have lingered for a few days. Now, she’s consulting with her doctor before getting the second dose.

“I think the vaccine is imperative. I don’t think it’s a decision of should you get the vaccine or don’t if you are able to do so,” she said.

However, she thinks more people should talk to their physicians about the COVID-19 vaccine, so they are prepared for adverse reactions.

“Do you need to do, like, in my case, breathing treatments and steroids before? Have that discussion before you show up for your vaccine. It’s a very simple discussion but could really save a lot of distress you may have,” she said. “I know we don’t have a lot of control over where we get it, but we do have control of the conversations we have with our doctors and having a loved one there with you.”

Bell said she doesn’t want to scare people by sharing her story, but she feels there should be more transparency about COVID-19 vaccines, especially for people with a history of allergic reactions.