The UK regulator warns those with a history of significant allergic reactions

Deputy Nurse Katie McIntosh is administering the first of two Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations to Chief Clinical Nurse Vivien McKay at Western General Hospital on the first day of the largest immunization program in British history in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. December 8, 2020

Andrew Milligan | Reuters

London – People who have previously had “significant” allergic reactions are not eligible for the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the UK drug regulator said on Wednesday.

The UK Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency has updated its guidance to UK health services on who should be vaccinated after two members of the UK National Health Service experience allergic reactions to the shot. According to the NHS National Medical Director, both are recovering well.

“Individuals with a history of a significant allergic reaction to a vaccine, drug, or food (such as a previous anaphylactic reaction or who have been advised to carry an adrenaline auto-injector) should not receive the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine,” the regulatory agency said.

Stephen Powis, the NHS’s national medical director, said such precautions were “common with new vaccines”.

The UK was the first country to approve and administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. A huge vaccination campaign began in hospitals on Tuesday, with health and care home workers and those over 80 being the first to be vaccinated.

Dr June Raine, head of the MHRA, told the UK government’s elected committee on Wednesday that the regulator is maintaining the vaccine’s “real-time vigilance” now that it is being deployed.

“Even last night, we looked at two reports of allergic reactions,” he said.

“We know from extensive clinical trials that this was not typical, but if we need to strengthen our advice now that we have gained this experience in vulnerable populations, in priority groups, we will get that advice right away.”