Healthcare

Alaskan health worker experiences serious but rare reaction to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

A health worker in Alaska experienced what appears to be a rare but serious allergic reaction to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, according to The New York Times.

The worker, who had no history of allergies, was under observation in a hospital on Wednesday morning, according to the Times, and is set to be discharged later in the day.

The worker experienced flushing and shortness of breath, which subsided after being treated with epinephrine, according to the Times.

“She is healthy and she is doing well,” Dr. Lindy Jones, emergency department medical director at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, told the newspaper.

Two health workers in Britain experienced similar allergic reactions after receiving the vaccine last week, but have both recovered.

The United Kingdom issued a warning that anyone with a history of allergic reactions to medicine or food should not get the shot. One of the British health workers had a history of egg allergies while the other was allergic to several different medications.

Still, Pfizer’s trial of more than 40,000 people did not find any serious health issues caused by the vaccine, though many did report side effects including aches and fevers that typically subsided in one day.

Serious health issues from Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine appear to be rare and the shot was deemed safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and health agencies in other countries.

A Pfizer spokesperson said they don’t have all the details of the report yet but are working with local health authorities to assess the situation.

“We will closely monitor all reports suggestive of serious allergic reactions following vaccination and update labeling language if needed,” said spokesperson Jerica Pitts. “The prescribing information has a clear warning/precaution that appropriate medical treatment and supervision should always be readily available in case of a rare anaphylactic event following the administration of the vaccine.”

Pitts noted that participants in Pfizer’s clinical stage three trial were excluded if they had a history of severe adverse reactions associated with a vaccine or to any component of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“Overall, there were no safety signals of concern identified in our clinical trials, including no signal of serious allergic reactions associated with vaccine,” Pitts said.

“However, reports of adverse events outside of clinical studies are a very important component to our pharmacovigilance activities and we will review all available information on this case and all reports of adverse events following vaccination.”

An FDA spokesperson said the agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working with Pfizer “to better understand what occurred.” 

Updated at 5:11 pm. 

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 vaccine FDA Food and Drug Administration Pandemic Pfizer
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