A clinician in Fairbanks, Alaska, who received a coronavirus vaccine on Thursday experienced what appeared to be an anaphylactic reaction, according to leadership at Foundation Health Partners (FHP), a health care system linked to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.
The employee reported she had no known allergies, though she had once experienced a reaction to a bee sting. Ten minutes after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the woman began having what is described as “traditional anaphylactic symptoms,” which included tongue swelling, a hoarse voice and difficulty breathing.
While the vaccine clinic is stocked with first aid for anaphylaxis, it was not needed. Instead, the woman was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, and clinicians administered two doses of epinephrine. She remained at the hospital for observation and was released six hours later. She was one of nearly 300 employees to receive the vaccine on Thursday; their first shipment of vaccines arrived on Wednesday.
The employee, who wished to remain anonymous, issued a statement:
“Anaphylaxis is a rare but expected potential side effect that is treatable and does not have long term health implications like Covid. I would get the vaccine and recommend it to anyone, despite my reaction, to help our country get immunized which is needed for the health of all Americans, for the economy, get families hugging again, for getting children back to schools, and to get the country on the other side of this pandemic. I’ve seen firsthand the suffering and death of COVID patients and my adverse reaction to the vaccine pales to what COVID infection can do to people.”
It is not surprising that there have been reports of anaphylaxis associated with the coronavirus vaccine. With more and more vaccines being administered every day, reports of adverse reactions will become more common, though they are still few and far between.
Officials at FHP say they are “working with the State of Alaska Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to share details of the reaction. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC have created several programs for tracking any adverse reactions to the vaccine. FHP reported details of yesterday’s event to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This national system collects and analyzes data that helps federal health authorities monitor the safety of vaccines.”