The Pfizer and BioNTech COVID vaccine was greenlighted by the CDC advisory group for widespread use. This means that this vaccine is appropriate for any American aged 16 years and older. This is the same vaccine approved and is being administered in the UK. According to Pfizer, it is expected to deliver 6.4 million doses for its initial shipments to the US. This targets more than 600 distribution centers.
COVID vaccine recommended for widespread use
Questions started to arise when two healthcare workers in the UK, who were among those who received the first shots of the vaccine, experienced severe adverse reactions to the vaccine. For a pandemic that has killed more than 300,000 Americans in the past year, and cases are on the rise due to winter, pertinent knowledge about the vaccine is important. Could people with allergies get vaccinated?
COVID vaccine Guidelines for people with allergies
During the Pfizer and BioNTech trials, severe allergic reactions to the vaccine were rare. According to a report from the FDA, only 0.63% of the participants experienced serious allergic reactions. The CDC announced on December 13 that people who experienced allergies from other vaccines and injectable drugs may still get the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID vaccine.
In this case, anyone who experienced severe adverse reactions from previous vaccinations or injectable drugs should:
- Discuss risks with their doctors. Unknown risks of anaphylaxis (allergic reaction) should be well consented to by the patient. Counseling must be done so that the risk of allergic reactions could be balanced out by the benefits of vaccination.
- Be monitored for at least 30 minutes after vaccination. Any patient who wants to receive vaccination must be honest enough to admit that they have had severe allergies from their previous immunizations. This is so healthcare workers will be able to assist if any symptoms of anaphylaxis appear post-vaccination.
- Know the symptoms of anaphylaxis. Should the symptoms of anaphylaxis come more than 30 minutes after vaccination, it is important to self-detect the possibility of anaphylaxis. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, wheezing, fast heart rate, and dizziness. Immediately bring yourself to the nearest healthcare provider or hospital.
For people with food or medicine allergies
In the US, people who have other types of allergies like pollen, food, or others are not recommended for special precautions. The only recommendation against the vaccine is if a person has any existing allergies to ANY specific components of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Experts did, in fact, comment that the vaccine in question has “pretty standard” ingredients.
The guidance provided in the UK is different, however. Any form of allergies must be discussed with the healthcare provider before vaccination. So, if anyone has a question, it might be good to mention it to your doctor before getting the vaccine.
For pregnant people
According to the vaccine Fact Sheet from the FDA, there is no significant data to conclude that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has associated risks for pregnant people. Contact your healthcare provider for more details.