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March marks lymphedema awareness month

Posted at 10:22 AM, Mar 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 11:22:47-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Lymphedema is a long-term condition where excess fluid collects in tissues, causing swelling in various parts of the body.

As more people with pre-existing conditions become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, a lymphedema therapist with Methodist is spreading awareness about where on their bodies patients should get the shot; it's not always the arm.

"If you've already got swelling there and we are bringing more swelling there, that might be a problem for some folks. So we are recommending that if they can, they get their vaccine in either the other arm if that arm is not affected and that if both arms are affected that they get it in their leg," said Wendy Buchholz, certified lymphedema therapist with Methodist Hospital.

Buchholz said Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are all safe to administer in the leg to patients with lymphedema. One patient, a breast cancer survivor, said she will choose her left arm because of swelling in the right.

"I want to set up my appointment so I can get back to seeing my grandbabies and I think it will just put my mind at ease about everything," said Leah Dinoso, lymphedema patient.

Buchholz said to make sure vaccine administrators know they can inject in the leg, adding that if you are worried about privacy, look for a vaccine at a pharmacy with private locations.

Buchholz adds the symptoms from the vaccine, even for lymphedema patients, are much less serious than actually catching COVID-19.

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