If you have severe allergies, you probably shouldn’t get the coronavirus vaccine right away

coronavirus vaccine allergy epi pens
Photo via Tony Webster/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A day after COVID-19 vaccinations began in the United Kingdom, officials there are warning of potential allergic reactions from the shot and are advising people who have a severe allergy not to get the new coronavirus vaccine. 

The warning came Dec. 9 after two National Health Services employees, both with a history of severe allergies, had what was described as bad anaphylactoid reactions after receiving the new Pfizer/BioNTech-created vaccine the day before. 

NPR reported that while both healthcare workers are recovering from their reactions, U.K. officials are still advising caution for anyone who plans to get the coronavirus vaccine who has also previously experienced a vaccine, food, or drug allergy. 

CNN added that the two people affected both carried adrenaline auto-injectors due to their allergy histories.  

England’s National Health Service Chief Medical Director Stephen Powis echoed a recommendation from the Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

“As is common with new vaccines, the MHRA has advised, on a precautionary basis, that people with a significant history of allergic reactions do not receive this vaccination after two people with a history of significant allergic reactions responded adversely yesterday,” Powis said in a statement.

While it’s not yet known if other vaccines coming to the market will have similar issues, England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty noted that people will have a range of vaccine choices by mid-2021.

“A situation where we have enough vaccines that you have a choice which one you wish, (that) will be a very nice problem for us to have,” Whitty said. “Currently, if the choice is between a good vaccine and no vaccine, I’m going to just go for whichever good vaccine is available.”

Pfizer said in a statement, “In the pivotal phase 3 clinical trial, this vaccine was generally well tolerated with no serious safety concerns reported by the independent Data Monitoring Committee. The trial has enrolled over 44,000 participants to date, over 42,000 of whom have received a second vaccination.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released documents on Dec. 8 showing potentially slightly more adverse responses, thought to be allergic reactions, in the Pfizer/BioNTech trial data. That data indicated a 0.63% rate among the vaccine group compared with 0.51% of the placebo group.

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Sources: NPR, CNN

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