The COVID-19 vaccine is already being administered in the UK and the country's health organization has issued a warning for patients with a "significant history of allergic reactions" who are getting the vaccine.
The National Health Service England said two health care workers "responded adversely" after getting their first shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines and warned others with a significant history of allergic reactions to not get the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine. The healthcare staffers, who both carried an adrenaline auto-injector with them, developed symptoms of an anaphylactoid reaction.
"As is common with new vaccines the MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency] have 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," said Stephen Powis, the national medical director for NHS England, in a statement. "Both are recovering well."
The NHS also advised that vaccines "should only be carried out in facilities where resuscitation measures are available."
Vaccine expert Dr. Paul Offit told CNN that these incidents are not uncommon, explaining, "Certainly, vaccines can cause severe allergic reactions. In the United States, roughly one of every 1.4 million doses of vaccines are complicated by a severe allergic reaction." He also noted most allergic reaction cases can be effectively treated.
Pfizer and the UK's NHS are investigating the 2 incidents and 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 CDC advises that anyone with "any severe, life-threatening allergies" to inform their medical provider before receiving any vaccine.
Canada has approved the Pfizer vaccine and is expected to begin administering it next week. Find out when Americans should expect to be able to get the COVID -19 vaccine.