Health care worker suffers ‘serious’ allergic reaction to Pfizer vaccine


(ABC News) — An Alaska health care worker was hospitalized Wednesday, shortly after receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

The unnamed staff member at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, Alaska, “showed signs of an anaphylactic reaction” 10 minutes after inoculation, “with increased heartbeat, shortness of breath and skin rash and redness,” according to a press release.

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“She was given epinephrine and Benadryl, admitted to the hospital, and put on an intravenous epinephrine drip,” Bartlett Regional Hospital said in a statement Wednesday night. “Her reaction was serious but not life threatening.”

The staff member, who had no known previous allergies or adverse reactions to vaccines, “is recovering and will remain another night in the hospital under observation,” according to the press release.

“She is still encouraging her colleagues to get the vaccine,” the hospital said.

It’s the first known adverse allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, which was granted emergency-use authorization in the United States last Friday.

A second staff member at Bartlett Regional Hospital “experienced eye puffiness, light headedness, and scratchy throat” 10 minutes after being injected with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday, according to the press release.

“His reaction was not considered anaphylaxis,” Bartlett Regional Hospital said in the statement Wednesday night. “He was taken to the Emergency Department and administered epinephrine, Pepcid and Benadryl. He felt completely back to normal within an hour and was released.”

“He too does not want his experience to have a negative impact on his colleagues lining up for the vaccine,” the hospital added.

Both incidents were reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which Bartlett Regional Hospital said “is providing guidance and support.” The symptoms in each case were discovered during the 15-minute observation period after inoculation recommended by the CDC.

“We were expecting these things and we had all the right systems in place,” Charlee Gribbon, an infection control practitioner at Bartlett Regional Hospital, who is overseeing a mass operation to vaccinate as many staff as possible, said in a statement Wednesday night.

Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink said there are “no plans to change our vaccine schedule, dosing or regimen.”