At least 21 Americans had life-threatening anaphylaxis after receiving Pfizer's vaccine, CDC reveals


Nearly two dozen Americans have experienced life-threatening allergic reactions after receiving Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, a new report finds.

Between December 14 and 23, a total of 21 people suffered anaphylaxis upon getting their first dose, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed on Wednesday.

Of those patients, 17 people had a history of allergies or allergic reactions and 71 percent of cases occurred within 15 minutes of vaccination.

With approximately only 1.9 million shots administered over that time period, that is a rate of 11.1 cases of anaphylaxis per million doses.

However, the CDC says this reaction is ‘still exceedingly rare’ and urge the general public to get the vaccines when they become available to them to help curb the pandemic that is claiming an average of more than 2,000 lives per day in the U.S.

A new report from the CDC on Wednesday revealed 21 people out of 1.9 million suffered anaphylaxis after getting the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine (above)

A new report from the CDC on Wednesday revealed 21 people out of 1.9 million suffered anaphylaxis after getting the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine (above)

Of the patients, 17 had a history of allergies or allergic reactions and 71% occurred within 15 minutes of vaccination, but all are said to have recovered. Pictured: Dr Nick Gilpin receives his second Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from registered nurse Susan Grant at Beaumont Health in Southfield, Michigan, January 5

Of the patients, 17 had a history of allergies or allergic reactions and 71% occurred within 15 minutes of vaccination, but all are said to have recovered. Pictured: Dr Nick Gilpin receives his second Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine from registered nurse Susan Grant at Beaumont Health in Southfield, Michigan, January 5

The 21 people who suffered anaphylaxis were between ages 27 and 60 years old and the majority were women, with just two male patients – although the CDC says this could because more women than men received a first dose of the vaccine. 

A total of 17 had a history of allergies to a wide variety of things including tropical fruit, bee and wasp stings, eggs, shellfish, cats, penicillin and steroids.  

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Two of the patients had previous reactions to vaccines, one to a rabies vaccine and the other to the H1N1 flu shot.

Seven had a history of anaphylactic shock. 

PFIZER VACCINE SIDE EFFECTS

British regulators are advising that anyone who has a history of ‘significant’ allergic reactions to medicines, food or vaccines should not get the Pfizer coronavirus jab.

Allergic reactions to the vaccine are ‘very rare’, according to the trials involving more than 40,000 people.

Pfizer found a ‘very small number’ during its phase three clinical studies, or 137 out of 19,000 people who got the vaccine. But 111 people who were given a placebo also had allergic reactions. 

They also identified 12 possible side-effects from the vaccine, with seven identified as ‘very common’ meaning they are likely to affect more than one in ten people. Below are the known side effects.

The patient safety leaflet for the vaccine cautions that anyone with an allergy to any of the active substances in the vaccine should not receive the jab.

Allergic reactions to the vaccine are:

Very common (Likely to affect more than one in ten people)

  • Pain at injection site
  • Tiredness
  • Muscle pain
  • Chills
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Headache 

Common (Likely to affect up to one in ten people)

  • Injection site swelling
  • Redness at injection site
  • Nausea 

Uncommon (May affect one in 100 people) 

  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Feeling unwell

According to the report, reactions occurred between two minutes and 150 minutes after being given the Pfizer dose.

Ninety percent of the patients were treated with epinephrine, a hormone that relaxes the airway muscles, and 19 percent – or four people – were hospitalized including three in the ICU.

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The remaining 17 percent were  treated in an emergency department. Of the 20 people with follow-up information available, all were discharged home or had recovered. 

No deaths were reported. 

With 21 reactions out of 1,893,360 first doses, that equates to a rate of 11.1 cases of anaphylaxis per million doses.

By comparison, the flu has a rate of one case per million doses. 

‘This may seem high compared to the flu but I want to reassure you this is still a rare outcome,’ Dr Nancy Messonier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters in a call on Wednesday. 

‘I continue to believe that the risk of Covid makes it imperative that people go ahead and get vaccinated as soon as it is available to them.’  

Anaphylactic shock is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to an allergy from food, medicine or even a type of material.

The immune system releases chemicals that flood the body, blood pressure suddenly drops, and airways narrow, which prevents someone from breathing normally.

Symptoms usually occur within minutes and include hives, a weak pulse, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and a swollen tongue or throat.

If not treated immediately, it can lead to death.

Allergic reactions to the Pfizer shot were first seen in the U.K. when two National Health Service (NHS) staff members with a history of severe allergies suffered reactions after being immunized last month.

One of the workers, a 49-year-old woman, had a history of egg allergies and the other, a 40-year-old woman, had a history of drug allergies.

Both of them carried devices that contain epinephrine in case they suffered any reactions.

A third patient also had a ‘possible allergic reaction,’ but British authorities neither described it nor gave an update on the patient.

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Pfizer says its jab is not made with any egg ingredients.

After the reactions, the U.K.’s Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued a warning that anyone with severe allergic reactions to food or medicine not be given the vaccine.

About 32 million Americans have food allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. It’s unknown how many have drug allergies.

In the U.S., those without anaphylaxis or immediate allergic reactions are recommended to be observed for 15 minutes and those with such a history for 30 minutes.

‘If you have allergies to compounds in the vaccine or closely related compounds, we recommend you don’t get vaccinated at this time, ‘ Dr Thomas Clark, epidemiology lead for the CDC’s Meningitis and Vaccine Preventable Diseases Branch, said on the call with reporters.  

Clinical trial data also revealed that four people given the vaccine were diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, a type of facial paralysis.

However, trial scientists said there was no evidence the jab that caused the condition and that the figure was on par with the rate of Bell’s Palsy in the general population.

‘Among non-serious unsolicited adverse events, there was a numerical imbalance of four cases of Bell’s palsy in the vaccine group compared with no cases in the placebo group, though the four cases in the vaccine group do not represent a frequency above that expected in the general population,’ the analysis read.

In its report on Pfizer, the CDC said it plans to study adverse events reported after getting the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and release an analysis in the coming weeks.



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