(Reuters) – An Alaskan health worker suffered a severe allergic reaction after receiving Pfizer Inc and BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, but is now stable, public health authorities said Wednesday.
The side effect in the person, minutes after taking the Pfizer injection on Tuesday, was similar to two cases reported in Britain last week.
The UK medical regulator has said that anyone with a history of anaphylaxis or severe allergic reactions to any medicine or food should not receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that most Americans with allergies should be safe to receive the vaccine. It said only people who have previously had severe allergic reactions to vaccines or ingredients in this particular vaccine should avoid the injection.
The Alaskan patient had no history of allergic reactions, Lindy Jones, the director of the emergency department in the capital Juneau where the patient was being treated, told reporters during a virtual briefing.
The symptoms in the middle-aged patient resolved after administration of an allergy treatment with epinephrine, Jones said.
The patient was still at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau on Wednesday and was monitored.
Pfizer said the vaccine comes with a clear warning that appropriate medical treatment and supervision should always be readily available in case of anaphylaxis, but would update the vaccine labeling language if necessary.
Administration of the vaccine began in the United States on Monday, after approval for emergency use last week. Early doses have been reserved for health professionals and nursing home residents
Former FDA chief scientist Jesse Goodman called the allergic reaction a concern, but said more information needs to be known to better understand the risks.
“What we need to know is what the denominator is: how many doses have been given? Will this be something that is more common with this vaccine than others? Goodman said. “We’ll have to sort those things out to inform whether recommendations are being changed or how they’re being used.”
Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Michael Erman in New York; Edited by Ramakrishnan M. and Shinjini Ganguli and Alistair Bell