UPDATE: An interview Niki Forbing-Orr, Public Information Manager for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare was added to the original publication.
Two Idaho residents reported having severe allergic reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine according to an Idaho Department of Health and Welfare news release on Dec. 22. One patient has fully recovered and the other was expected to be released the same day as the news release.
Both patients have experienced adverse reactions to injectable medication in the past.
As of December 19, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention commented that multiple people have had similar experiences with allergic reactions — also known as anaphylaxis — to the vaccine.
“One (patient) started showing symptoms about five minutes after vaccination, and the other about 20 minutes after,” Niki Forbing-Orr, Public Information Manager for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, shared in an interview with Scroll. “This is why it’s important to follow recommendations for everyone to be observed for 15 minutes after vaccination, and for 30 minutes for those who are known to have had allergic reactions to injected medications or vaccinations in the past.”
Specific details for this case are still being investigated.
“If you have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable therapies, you should ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine,” The CDC recommends, in order to prevent future allergic reactions. “Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated.”
The CDC also encourages monitoring individuals after a vaccination.
“We will continue to update vaccine providers and the public as soon as we know more,” Dr. Christine Hahn, medical director for the Division of Public Health stated in the release. “People without a history of severe reaction or anaphylaxis to a vaccine or injectable therapy are still recommended and encouraged to get the vaccine when the vaccine is made available to them.”
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare consistently evaluates data from the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System for information on reactions caused or seemed to be caused by the vaccine. Click here to access links to this data.
As the vaccine is in limited supply, it is currently not offered to the public. Governor Brad Little, with the assistance of federal guidance and the COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee (CVAC), is prioritizing healthcare personnel such as hospital staff essential workers, dentists, and pharmacists to first receive the vaccination.
On December 29, Forbing-Orr said vaccines for residents and staff of long-term care facilities — such as nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and hospice care — will begin receiving the vaccine this week. For more information on priority groups for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, visit Idaho’s coronavirus website.
“This plan is a ‘living document’ that will be revised as new information is obtained about specific vaccines approved for use, prioritized populations and subgroups identified for vaccination when vaccine supplies are limited, and partners’ and stakeholders’ recommendations,” the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare stated, under the Interim COVID-19 Vaccination Plan.
Visit https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/ for current details about COVID-19 and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Idaho.