The CDC says that as of Saturday morning, there had been 272,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine administered with six severe allergic reactions. They have changed their recommendations, cautioning those who have ever suffered an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine not to get it.
But those with allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications can still be vaccinated. If you’re allergic to food, pets, or other non-vaccine related products, the CDC says the vaccine should be safe.
U.S. vaccine recipients are supposed to hang around after their injections in case signs of an allergy appear. The CDC says all cases occurred within the recommended observation window and were promptly treated.
The numbers were discussed at a meeting of a committee that advises the CDC on vaccines. The group on Saturday endorsed Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which was granted emergency authorization on Friday.
There have been less severe side effects as well, but they too have been few and far between.
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Less severe side effects have also been rare. Among the first 215,000 people to get vaccinated in the U.S., fewer than 1.5% of them had problems that left them unable to perform their normal activities or required medical care.
Many vaccines can cause temporary discomfort, such as a sore arm or certain flu-like symptoms. COVID-19 vaccines tend to cause more of those reactions than a flu shot, and some hospitals are staggering the times their employees get vaccinated to avoid staffing problems.
One hospital in Illinois shut down its vaccination program after four employees reported an allergic reaction.
After a thorough internal review, Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville is restarting their COVID-19 vaccination program as of Sunday.
The program was put on pause Friday night after four employees experience reactions shortly after receiving the vaccine. Officials said there have been no other cases reported across Advocate Aurora Health.
“So the immediate concern was, is there something wrong with that batch of vaccines, but after discussion with our health departments and also understanding that that same lot of vaccine was used at multiple other sites, both within and outside of advocate Aurora health, and no other serious concerns reported. We felt that there are really no concerns about the integrity of the vaccine,” said Dr. Robert Citronberg, Executive Medical Director of Infectious Disease and Prevention.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been proven to be very effective and very safe. But a vaccine is safe unless you’re allergic to it. Six cases out of 272,000 is not a large number by any means but it’s of concern because there might be people who should not be vaccinated. The CDC mentions that anyone who has allergies to any of the vaccine’s ingredients shouldn’t be inoculated but there may be other red flags that people need to know about.
Still to be discovered is how long immunity to COVID lasts after being vaccinated. Pfizer is hoping immunity can be measured in years, not months. The way the vaccines work may have something to do with how long they protect us. It’s a guessing game right now, but the fact that we even have a vaccine — much less two — is a miracle.