'Get informed': Duke doctor with history of severe allergies gets COVID-19 vaccine

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Duke doctor with a history of severe allergies who recently received her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, is urging people like her to do their research and talk with their physician about getting vaccinated.

Dr. Leonor Corsino, an endocrinologist and Assoc. Prof. of Medicine at Duke, told ABC11 she did her research before choosing to get vaccinated and found the benefits far outweighed the risks.

"There are many reasons why," she said. "One is obviously because I wanted to be vaccinated to protect myself and protect my patients."

Many of the patients Corsino treats on a weekly basis have diabetes and are at a higher risk of severe illness if they contract the virus.

"Second, I do believe in vaccination," said Corsino. "I've always received all my vaccines in the past. I trust science, as an investigator myself."

According the to the CDC Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, there have been seven reports of allergic reaction to the Pfizer vaccine and one to the Moderna vaccine in the U.S.

The CDC recently updated its guidance, accordingly:

  • People allergic any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, including PEG or polysorbate, should not get either of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines.
  • If you had a severe allergic reaction after getting the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get the second dose.
  • If you had an immediate allergic reaction, even if it was not severe, to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get either of the currently available mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

In 2012, Corsino ended up in Duke's emergency department, not knowing what triggered the anaphylactic reaction that prompted her to now always carry an Epipen.

When she was tapped to get the Pfizer vaccine during the first days of its rollout at Duke, she declined.

"However, after seeing that over 2 million healthcare providers have received the vaccine in the last couple weeks, and looking at the number of cases that have been reported, I feel more comfortable," she said.

So after doing her research, Corsino got her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 28.

"Actually I didn't have a lot of concerns, no pain in my arm which I know some people have reported that," she said. "I did have a little bit of red in my ears and a little bit of fatigue the day after. But afterwards, I have been feeling perfectly fine."
As a member of Duke's Latin-19, an advocacy team formed during the pandemic to reach and help the Latino population through it, Corsino said it was one more important reason for her make the informed decision to get vaccinated.

"My goal as a Latina and an immigrant myself, is to actually educate my community so they feel ease of following the recommendations, so we don't continue to lose valuable lives because of this pandemic that is impacting them so disproportionately," she said.

For now, Corsino said she's encouraging others to do what she did.

"Read about it," she said. "Get informed. Take time to make the decision."

She's now looking forward to scheduling her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I'm not concerned," she said. "I have my Epipen. We know anaphylaxis is something we can treat. And in that regard, I feel confident about getting my second dose."
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