Everything Canada Knows About The Allergic Reactions To The COVID-19 Vaccine

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Everything Canada Knows About The Allergic Reactions To The COVID-19 Vaccine

After the senior medical advisor for Health Canada told the country that one of the COVID-19 vaccines en route to the True North was also responsible for the allergic reaction of two people during its trial stages, she quickly assured Canadians it was nothing to worry about.

Dr. Supriya Sharma also said that what reportedly happened in the U.K. was also being monitored.

She added that the number of allergic reactions seen following inoculation is minuscule at best.    

Still, some people may have questions and here is what officials have said so far.

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What has Canada learned from the U.K.?

Initially, reports surfaced that the U.K. was dealing with cases of allergic reactions related to the vaccines in which health care workers with a history of allergies suffered reactions from the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, according to CNN.

They were treated and have since recovered.

And for those wondering what the True North has in common with the U.K. and how their situation could apply across the pond, it is important to note that Canada has ordered millions of doses of the same vaccines.

Dr. Sharma said in Wednesday’s press conference that Canada is working closely with U.K. counterparts and has learned some key things, like that the reactions reportedly occurred shortly after receiving the vaccine.

"That’s why when people receive vaccines we ask that they remain in the area that they get the vaccine for a period of time, usually 15 to 20 minutes to be monitored," Sharma said.

Should people with allergies still get the vaccine?

The U.K. government released a statement on December 9 advising that "any person with a history of immediate-onset anaphylaxis to a vaccine, medicine or food should not receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine."

It's unclear if Canada will issue a similar advisory. 

What is being reported is that the risk of an allergic reaction to the vaccine is very low, as was seen in clinical trials.  

Sharma said that out of about 44,000 people, only two suffered from severe reactions; one who received a dose and another who did not.

Additionally, when looking at the trials' full population, the rate of serious adverse events is small. 

"It was 2.8% of the population for people over the age of 55 and 4.6% of all serious adverse events for people under the age of 55, so relatively low," she said.

So far, the reactions to the Pfizer vaccine have been in line with other vaccines, Dr. Sharma said. 

What were the symptoms seen in trial and then again with U.K.'s first patients?

During the trials, Canadian health officials confirmed that the main reactions seen were "discomfort at the injection site," fatigue, and headaches.   

They said that these reactions were short-lived and mild.

In the U.K., the two health care workers who received the vaccine, both of whom have a history of allergies, had anaphylactoid reactions.

"We are always looking for any additional side effects and that’s why we continue to monitor," Sharma said. "We have both requirements on the company to continue to monitor it and they have requirements to continue to monitor the patients in the clinical trials for two years."

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