A Vancouver Island woman who had a reaction to a COVID vaccine wants to share her story.

Annie Taal of Victoria says she’s grateful to be vaccinated against COVID-19, despite experiencing an allergic reaction following her first dose.

In fact, she says she has “no regrets at all.”

“I really don’t,” the 32-year-old says. “I was safe and cared for and I personally believe those mechanisms were also in place during the production of the vaccines.”

First diagnosed with serious allergies as a teen, Taal spoke with her doctor and sister, a public health nurse, about whether she should get vaccinated. They found the risks of COVID far outweighed any risk associated with the vaccine.

“I was super pumped about getting vaccinated for COVID and had no concerns,” Taal recalls. “I have never reacted to a vaccine and I have had many throughout my life.”

That said, it was in late May when Taal received her first dose.

Following the procedure, she waited for 15 minutes as recommended. However, about 8 minutes in, Taal noticed her mouth felt slightly itchy, she couldn’t take a deep breath, and she felt like she had a sunburn.

After being taken into a private area within her local vaccination clinic, nurses determined that Taal was having an anaphylactic reaction. They administered epinephrine before paramedics took her to the hospital for observation.

“Severe allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are very rare – about 1 in 100,000 people will react,” says Dr. Michael Benusic, a Medical Health Officer with Island Health.

“Our vaccination sites are set up to identify and respond to this when it occurs, which is exactly what happened with this patient,” Benusic explains. “We also have a great team of immunologists who determine if vaccines can be safely provided after this occurs.”

After treatment, Taal recovered and was referred to an immunologist to determine if she could receive a second dose of vaccine. Health teams used a technique called graded-dose administration, where the full dose is separated into smaller doses and provided over a span of time with close monitoring.

According to Island Health, Taal is now fully vaccinated.

At the end of the day, she’s speaking up, and hopes her story might ease the fear and uncertainty others may be feeling.

“I was one of the 1 in 100,000 cases and came through it completely OK. I feel so much lighter now that I am vaccinated,” adds Taal.

“I did it to protect the people around me – my mom is a cancer survivor, I have nieces and nephews. I want them to be safe. The longer people wait to get vaccinated, the longer COVID will be with us.”