WASHINGTON, United States (AFP)— A health worker in Alaska suffered a serious allergic reaction after getting Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine and is now hospitalized but stable.
During a media briefing Wednesday, health officials said the middle-aged woman had no history of allergies and had never experienced anaphylaxis, a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction.
Bartlett Regional Hospital officials said all 96 of its workers who received the vaccine Tuesday were observed for 30 minutes after the shot. The woman starting feeling flushed about 10 minutes into that observation period, and took Benadryl, an antihistamine.
However, her symptoms progressed to an elevated heart rate and shortness of breath, and was sent to the hospital’s emergency department.
“She had a red, flushed rash over her face and torso,” Dr. Lindy Jones, the emergency physician who treated her, said during the briefing Wednesday. “I was concerned about an anaphylactic reaction.” Jones gave her an emergency injection of epinephrine.
Her symptoms abated for a short time, but then re-emerged. She was put on intravenous epinephrine, and moved to the hospital’s intensive care unit where she remained overnight. Jones said the woman did not necessarily require ICU resources, but added, “we are a small little hospital here, so if we are concerned about anyone, we put them in the ICU.”
As of Wednesday morning, the woman was off all medications, and was expected to be discharged Wednesday evening.
Pfizer said in a statement that the company is “working with local health authorities to assess” the reaction that occurred in Alaska, and will “closely monitor all reports suggestive of serious allergic reactions following vaccination and update labeling language if needed.”