Two health workers suffer allergic reaction to vaccine with one in hospital

Two health workers in Alaska have suffered allergic reactions after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine at the same hospital, according to reports.

One had to be kept in hospital for observation for two nights after she reported feeling flushed within 10 minutes of getting the jab at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau on Tuesday.

At first she took an antihistamine but later reported alarming symptoms including shortness of breath and an elevated heart rate.

She was taken to the hospital's emergency room where Dr Lindy Jones said the woman had developed a rash over her face and torso.

"I was concerned about an anaphylactic reaction so gave her the standard treatment of a dose of intramuscular epinephrine and she responded immediately," Dr Jones said later.

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The worker was given another dose of epinephrine when her symptoms didn't subside, as well as a treatment of steroids. She spent the next two nights in the intensive care unit for observation and was reported to have recovered.

She had no previous history of allergies to vaccines, reports CNN.

While it was a serious reaction, doctors said her symptoms were never life-threatening.

The second health care worker, who received the vaccine at the same hospital on Wednesday, experienced puffy eyes, light headedness and a scratchy throat after being injected.

He was given epinephrine, antihistamines and heartburn medicine, felt fine again within an hour and was released.

Staff at Bartlett Regional Hospital have been vaccinated this week as part of the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine in the US.

It's the first case of an allergic reaction to the vaccine reported in the country so far.

Health officials say they're expecting occasional reactions and are prepared to treat anyone suffering post-vaccine symptoms.

During the UK's first week of vaccinations two NHS workers suffered an allergic reaction to the same vaccine.

Both staff members, who have not been identified, were carrying EpiPens at the time indicating they are known to suffer from life-threatening allergies.

NHS England said all trusts have since been advised not to vaccinate people with a history of allergic reaction.

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Alaska's Chief Medical Officer Dr Anne Zink pointed out the UK incidents when speaking to the media after the state's first reaction was reported.

"We expected that a side effect like this could occur after reports of anaphylaxis were made in England after people there received the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine," she said.

"All sites that are approved to provide vaccinations in Alaska must have medications on hand to deal with an allergic reaction and that was the case in Juneau."

The US Food and Drug Administration is now working with Pfizer and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to get to the bottom of what caused the reactions in Alaska.

The patient information leaflet with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine advises it should not be given to people allergic to any substance in the vaccine.

"Signs of an allergic reaction may include itchy skin rash, shortness of breath and swelling of the face or tongue," it reads.

Approximately one in a million people who receive any vaccine will have a severe allergic reaction.

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