You probably saw those reports on your FB walls, news outlets, and friend’s pages yesterday. In summary, the UK reported 2 people had a severe allergic reaction after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Should we be worried? Let’s talk about what this means and what it doesn’t mean.
✅ 1. The UK vaccinated at least 5,000 people on the first day (yesterday) of the mass vaccination rollout, including front-line healthcare workers and persons over the age of 80.
✅ 2. TWO of the thousands vaccinated had a severe allergic reaction, and both are doing fine after receiving treatment. It’s really important to define what that is AND isn’t. These two people carry an EpiPen with them and had a history of severe reactions. In other words, this is not like seasonal allergies due to pollen. It’s also not like your stomach hurts when you eat too much pizza.
**A quick note: The mRNA vaccines do not contain traces of nuts, any animal products, or egg products like some traditional flu-vaccines. I’m linking to two great articles about that in the sources. I know many of you with severe egg allergies have questions about ingredients.
✅ 3. What’s not a severe allergic reaction? Having a sore arm, fatigue, or other slight side-effects after you get a flu shot does not mean you have a history of severe allergic reactions. These reactions after a vaccine is your body doing what it is supposed to do after a vaccination – it’s building your immune system up to fight the real thing if you need it.
✅ 4. The UK health advisory group did recommend that persons with a history of SIGNIFICANT allergic reactions to not get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. There are several of you who are in that group. But, there are LOTS of us who are not. For those that are not in that group, the Phase 1, 2, and 3 trials of 38,000+ people show that the vaccine has a really good safety profile (see yesterday’s post for that data). If allergic reactions (widespread) were going to show up in the general population (so, those without a history of severe allergic reactions), we would have seen it by now.
✅ 5. Some recommendations:-Remember these reportings of ANY type of adverse events (from a sore arm due to the jab all the way to severe reactions) are normal. It signifies the FDA, the UK health groups, and the safety oversight committees are doing their jobs. We saw that yesterday. Out of an overabundance of caution, the UK recommended persons with a history of severe allergic reactions to not receive the vaccine – after 2 people. This type of reporting and abundance of caution is a good thing. But, the fast-paced-2020-social-media makes it seem scary.
-Remember this is rare. 1 person out of every 1.4 million persons who receive a vaccine have a severe allergic reaction. The risk to the general population is really rare. The risk of getting COVID-19 and passing to my family/neighbors is much higher. The risks of older family members being hospitalized with severe COVID-19 is much higher.
-The Pfizer COVID-19 trials did not include the small subset of the population with a history of severe allergic reactions (not having this group in the trials is normal for vaccine safety and efficacy trials). So, watching this group (and being really cautious) means the monitoring system is doing what it was designed to do.
-If you are in that group of a history of severe reactions (again, this is like needing to carry an EpiPen or if your doctor says you are in this group), I bet the FDA will give guidance today on who should or should not receive the vaccine.
✅ 6. The summary note: For the rest of us, I would urge patience as we share the news stories or read about these events. Be patient as you form your opinions about the vaccine. Fake news travels 10-20 times faster than real news (even after removing bots – see source below). I’m not saying don’t question things. I’m saying be cautious and wise to know what reports mean and don’t mean. I understand the many questions about these vaccines and feeling like it’s rushed or are scared about the UK news. I’m going to link to the past 6 posts I’ve done to help with that. But, I also want to urge caution and patience. For now, listen to your doctor’s recommendations on these vaccines. We should hear more from the FDA today about recommendations too.
-Friendly neighbor epidemiologist
✅ VACCINE SERIES (each of these posts have all-the-data at the end of each post):
𝐏𝐎𝐒𝐓 𝟏 – 𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐝 𝐢𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬: 𝐕𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬 𝟏𝟎𝟏 https://tinyurl.com/y27txvro
𝐏𝐎𝐒𝐓 𝟐 – 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐢𝐛𝐮𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧? 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐝𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤?https://tinyurl.com/y2vte5lz
𝐏𝐎𝐒𝐓 𝟑 – 𝐖𝐡𝐨𝐚, 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐝𝐞 𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐜𝐤, 𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭? 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐞 𝐛𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐟𝐞? https://tinyurl.com/y2awosyn
𝐏𝐎𝐒𝐓 𝟒 – “𝐖𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐈 𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐨𝐧𝐞? 𝐀𝐧𝐝, 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐝𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐠𝐞𝐭𝐬 𝐚 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭?” 𝐀𝐧𝐝, 𝐚 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐨𝐥𝐢𝐝𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐮𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐜 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠. https://tinyurl.com/y39cbptv
POST 5 – Myth-busters for vaccineshttps://tinyurl.com/y2woz462
POST 6 – Explaining the FDA review and talking about the final Pfizer study resultshttps://tinyurl.com/y22jd32f
UK COVID vaccine review: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/dr-june-raine-how-we-backed-a-jab-before-rest-of-the-west-3jvzsxtqs
UK COVID vaccine site: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/
Vaccine ingredients and production 101: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02756-5
The spread of true and false news on social media:https://news.mit.edu/2018/study-twitter-false-news-travels-faster-true-stories-0308