Are there legitimate exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines?

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - More than 63% of Alabamians are still unvaccinated and they cite a number of different reasons for not yet rolling up their sleeves.

But are there any legitimate medical or non-medical reasons why people aren’t getting the COVID vaccine?

It’s important to note that not all states allow exemptions for vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines, but Alabama does. And there are some common conditions and scenarios people, and health care professionals cite when seeking those exemptions.

Right now, the state of Alabama does not have a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, but some employers may require them for their employees. There is no single list employers are using to exempt a person from a vaccine mandate, but there are some reasons people cite for not getting the shot.

“Some people have allergies to the vaccine itself, or perhaps some other reason they’re not eligible to take it,” said State Health Officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health, Dr. Scott Harris.

Polyethylene glycol, or PEG, is a substance contained in both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

Dr. Harris said it’s rare, but it can touch off an allergic reaction for a small number of people.

“With any medication or vaccine or any type of food for that matter, you know, you shouldn’t receive it if you’re allergic to the components of it,” Dr. Harris said.

Researchers said allergic reactions to the COVID vaccines are generally mild and typically show up within the first few minutes of receiving them.

“If there are people who have significant allergies, anaphylaxis, life-threatening allergies, they would need to talk to their health care provider, but overall, the risks of serious reactions from the vaccine are just tiny,” Dr. Harris explained.

And what about personal convictions?

Are they enough to get you out of taking the shot?

“Alabama is one of the states that does allow certain types of non-medical exemptions as well, so you know people have philosophical or religious objections, then they’re allowed to be exempted from that as well,” Dr. Harris said.

Doctors still recommend the vaccine for everyone who’s eligible.

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