Numerous media stories this morning are reporting that health officials in the United Kingdom are advising that people with a history of significant allergic reactions should not be given the new Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19. This comes after two National Health Service workers reported an anaphylactic reaction after receiving the vaccine yesterday. Both of these patients had a history of anaphylaxis and carried an epinephrine autoinjector. At this time, it is not known whether the reactions can be traced to the vaccine.
As allergists, we know there is a rare risk of anaphylaxis to vaccines. The College has a COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force, which is monitoring this situation closely and will advise members of any new information, including any recommendations from the US Food and Drug Administration and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Pfizer’s official statement states, “Pfizer has been advised by MHRA of two yellow card reports that may be associated with allergic reaction due to administration of the COVID-19 BNT162b2 vaccine. As a precautionary measure, the MHRA has issued temporary guidance to the NHS while it conducts an investigation in order to fully understand each case and its causes. Pfizer and BioNTech are supporting the MHRA in the investigation. In the pivotal phase 3 clinical trial, this vaccine was generally well tolerated with no serious safety concerns reported by the independent Data Monitoring Committee. The trial has enrolled over 44,000 participants to date, over 42,000 of whom have received a second vaccination.”