Coronavirus vaccinations are already underway in the United States, and so far there have been overwhelmingly positive reports. As with any vaccine, however, some recipients have noted adverse effects, including two health care workers in Alaska who had allergic reactions 10 minutes following their first doses. That's why health officials are suggesting that patients with a history of allergic reactions be monitored for 15 to 30 minutes after getting the COVID vaccine. Read on to learn why this observation time is essential, and for more vaccine warnings, The COVID Vaccine Could Temporarily Paralyze This Body Part, FDA Warns.
On Dec. 12, the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) released their clinical considerations for the use of Pfizer's COVID vaccine. In their recommendations, they say that "vaccine providers should observe patients after vaccination to monitor for the occurrence of immediate adverse reactions."
Patients with a history of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions) for any reason should be monitored for at least 30 minutes after their vaccine shot, the ACIP recommends. Those that have a history of food, pet, insect, venom, environmental, latex, or other allergies and have experienced an allergic reaction (but not anaphylaxis) should be monitored for at least 15 minutes.
"About one out of every million people that get a vaccine can have a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine," Paul Offit, MD, a member of the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) vaccine advisory committee, told CNN on Dec. 17. "What we need to find out is what specifically seems to be inducing this allergic reaction."
Until then, Offit echoes the ACIP's recommendation. "If you have a history of severe allergic reactions, then what you should do is you get the vaccine, but you have to wait for 30 minutes in the area to make sure that you can get the shot of epinephrine that will make those symptoms go away," he said.
The FDA requires that necessary supplies to treat allergic reactions "must be immediately available for administration" following the vaccine shot, in case an anaphylactic reaction occurs. According to the Food Allergy Research and Education organization, "40 percent of children with food allergies and more than half of adults with food allergy have experienced a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis." And that's just allergies from food, which an estimated 32 million Americans have.
It's important to note that allergic reactions to the vaccine are still considered rare. For more common side effects you may experience, keep reading, and for more on vaccine preparation, You Need to Do This Before Getting the Vaccine, White House Official Says.
Many vaccine shots can produce swelling in the arm, and the COVID vaccine isn't any different. The CDC says that a little discomfort and swelling isn't abnormal, but if you do experience redness or tenderness in that spot that gets worse after 24 hours, you should contact your healthcare provider. And to alleviate your vaccine concerns, Dr. Fauci Just Debunked the 4 Biggest Myths About the COVID Vaccine.
You should also prepare for a fever, according to the CDC. To help reduce discomfort from this, they recommend drinking plenty of fluids and dressing lightly. If your fever remains more than a few days, the CDC says to call your doctor. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
You may feel a little more tired than usual after your COVID vaccine, but this shouldn't cause too much worry. The CDC notes that being tired is a normal side effect, as multiple people who participated in vaccine trials reported fatigue. According to Science Magazine, 9.7 participants in Moderna's trial experienced fatigue and 3.8 had this side effect during Pfizer's trial. And for more on the spread of coronavirus, This Is the Person Who Is Most Likely to Give You COVID, Study Finds.
Getting a headache is also a known side effect of the COVID vaccine, the CDC says. Science Magazine reported that 2 percent of people in the Pfizer trial experienced headache side effects, while 4.5 percent of those in Moderna's dealt with the same. And for more on the two vaccines, This Is Which COVID Vaccine Dr. Fauci Plans to Get.