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Allergy warning issued for COVID-19 vaccine

3 mins read

The NHS has been advised against giving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to people with “a history of significant allergic reactions”

People with “a history of significant allergic reactions” to food, vaccines or medicines should not receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, according to UK drug regulators.

Two NHS staff members had allergic reactions to the vaccine on Tuesday.

The healthcare workers suffer from severe allergies and have to carry adrenaline autoinjectors at all times. They experienced symptoms of an anaphylactoid reaction shortly after their COVID-19 vaccination.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued precautionary advice to the NHS while it investigates each allergic reaction case and its cause.

“Vaccinations should only be carried out in facilities where resuscitation measures are available,” advised the MHRA.

Pfizer UK has been informed of the two “yellow card” reports of allergic reaction and is supportive of the MHRA’s investigation into the issue.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine offers up to 95% protection from COVID-19 and was approved for use in the UK last week.

Margaret Keenan (90) was the first person in the world to receive the vaccine (Image Credit: NHS England)

Health experts have assured that the vaccine is safe for the majority of the public. Due to insufficient evidence, the vaccine cannot yet be deemed safe for pregnant women, under 16s and those who suffer from severe allergies.

A Pfizer UK spokesperson said: “As a precautionary measure, the MHRA has issued temporary guidance to the NHS while it conducts an investigation in order to fully understand each case and its causes. Pfizer and BioNTech are supporting the MHRA in the investigation.

“In the pivotal phase 3 clinical trial, this vaccine was generally well tolerated with no serious safety concerns reported by the independent data monitoring company.”

According to Sky News Science Correspondent, Thomas Moore, side effects and mild adverse reactions are expected in vaccines.

“Some vaccines already carry health warnings for people prone to allergic reactions. People who have an egg allergy are told not to have certain brands of flu vaccine because they are grown in eggs.”

Dr Hillary Jones insisted that only a “very tiny minority” would have an allergic reaction to the vaccine and the public should not worry too much.

“Remember that 9,000 jabs were given on the first day and there were two slight reactions. These two people are completely fine now.”

However, the vaccine is not 100% effective in protecting against COVID-19 and it is therefore important to adhere to social distancing guidelines and wear a face covering in public.

Featured Image Credit: John Cairns (University of Oxford)

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