Health officials monitor safety as COVID-19 vaccines are distributed

(AP) – As COVID-19 vaccines roll out to more and more people, health authorities are keeping a close eye on unexpected side effects.

On Tuesday, a health worker in Alaska suffered a severe allergic reaction after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. She is in hospital for another night under observation while another employee, who received the vaccine on Wednesday, has recovered. Doctors were already known to be on the lookout after Britain reported two similar cases last week.

In the US, vaccine recipients have the right to hang around after the injection in case allergy signs appear and they need immediate treatment – just as when the health worker went there. flush Juneau and breathe 10 minutes after drawing. The second employee was experiencing eye puffiness, a light head and a sore throat.

Allergies are always an issue with a new medical product, but monitoring COVID-19 vaccines for any other unexpected side effects is more of a challenge than usual. This is not just because so many people will need to be vaccinated over the next year. Never before have so many vaccines been given at one time – and it is possible that one bullet option comes with different side effects than another.

The first vaccine is beginning to be widely used in the U.S. and many Western countries, manufactured by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech in Germany, and a soon-to-be-anticipated second option from rival Moderna Inc. both are made in the same way. The Food and Drug Administration says major studies have not found every single major safety hazard.

But the allergy concern “reiterates the importance of real-time safety monitoring,” said Dr. Jesse Goodman of Georgetown University, former head of FDA vaccination.

And authorities have a number of ways to monitor the success of these COVID-19 vaccines, and hopefully more in the coming months, will gain access to more weapons.


Getting either the Pfizer-BioNTech bullet or the Moderna version can be a bit of a temporary discomfort, just like many vaccines do.

In addition to a sore arm, people can develop a fever and some flu – like symptoms – fatigue, pain, cold, headache. They last about a day, sometimes badly enough for recipients to find work, and are more common after the second dose and in younger people.

These reactions are a sign that the immune system is evolving. COVID-19 vaccines tend to cause more of these reactions than flu shots, about what people get with shingle vaccines. But some are similar to early coronavirus symptoms, one reason hospitals are curious when their staff receive the vaccine.


The FDA found no side effects in the tens of thousands recorded in studies on both vaccines.

However, complications so rare that they do not occur in even very large studies sometimes arise when vaccines are more widely used and without strict clinical trial rules.

The first reports of allergies from England were in people with a history of severe allergies, and British authorities warned those with severe allergies to avoid the vaccine when determining the potential ingredient. a problem.

U.S. health authorities are providing more up-to-date advice. People are always asked about allergies to vaccines, and a guide to the Pfizer-BioNTech picture states that avoid it if you have a severe allergy to one of its ingredients or have had a severe adverse effect on a previous dose. Health workers can go over the ingredient list.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to keep around for 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine, and those with a history of other allergies for 30 minutes, so that they can be treated immediately if relapse occurs. hit them.

The Alaskan health worker, who said doctors had no history of allergies, followed that advice and received prompt care for a particularly serious reaction called anaphylaxis. She has recovered from a night of hospitalization – but a second dose of vaccine will not be allowed.

Alaska doctors have warned the U.S. authorities, who will continue with the necessary investigation to determine the prevalence of this type of reaction. This will be especially important as enough vaccines come to be given injections outside of health care settings that have a lot of experience treating this type of reaction.

“Balancing any potential risks with the benefits of the pandemic vaccine is an ongoing process,” said Dr Jay Butler. , CDC warned Wednesday.


The challenge explains whether the vaccine caused a health problem or whether it was a coincidence. Do not jump to conclusions that there is a connection, health authorities insist.

How to tell: Comparing any reports of possible side effects with data showing how often that same condition occurs regularly in the population.

The government has many ways of doing this. Doctors must report any patient problems. But the FDA is examining large databases of insurance claims for early red flags that any health problems appear more often in the new vaccine than everyone else.

On his list to study is Bell’s palsy, a temporary facial paralysis that occurred in a handful of people in both vaccine studies. The FDA said it may be a coincidence, but they will keep an eye out for sure.

Vaccine recipients can help find additional safety. Called “v-safe,” the CDC-run program automatically sends a daily text the first week after each vaccine dose asking how people are feeling, and then texting weekly for the next five weeks. Any responses expressing concern prompt a phone call for more information.


The Department of Health and Science Associated Press is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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