In a new update, the British Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency issued a warning that those with a “significant history” of allergic reactions should not use the new Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.
The warning was issued after two people in Britain’s National Health Service who received the vaccine experienced allergic reactions. Both people have recovered from their reactions and are in good health, according to the NHS’s national medical director Stephen Powis.
“Any person with a history of a significant allergic reaction to a vaccine, medicine or food (such as previous history of anaphylactoid reaction or those who have been advised to carry an adrenaline autoinjector) should not receive the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine,” the NHS said in a public statement on Wednesday.
The UK became the first country to approve the Pfizer vaccine earlier this week. The country kicked off a massive vaccination effort, opening up hospitals for people over 80 and frontline healthcare workers to get vaccines for the illness. The NHS has vowed to keep up active monitoring of people who receive the vaccine to ensure that it has minimal side effects. The allergic reaction experienced by two NHS staffers was unusual and led to the announcement of the guidelines.
The head of the MHRA, Dr. June Raine, told UK officials that the NHS would remain on the lookout for side effects from the new vaccine. “We know from the extensive clinical trials that [the allergic reactions were] not a feature, but if we need to strengthen our advice now that we have had this experience in vulnerable populations, the groups selected as a priority, we get that advice to the field immediately.”
Even as the UK rolls out their vaccine effort, the US is facing record-breaking numbers of cases. As cold weather and holidays drive people closer together in enclosed spaces, and fatigue from the long pandemic sets in, people are becoming less vigilant about their exposure to others. As such, the virus is spreading largely unchecked through the US, pushing the country back up over April’s levels of infection.
Many in the US are beleaguered by the disease and the lockdown measures implemented to slow its spread. As such, the arrival of vaccines that can combat the virus and stop it outright has been anxiously awaited by many in the US for months. Now that vaccines are in play, many are expecting a scramble of activity as people battle to be the first to be inoculated so they can resume their normal lives.