Coronavirus vaccines are being hailed as a huge step towards normality. A 90-year-old grandmother of four from Northern Ireland was the first person to be vaccinated in the world outside of trial conditions. But how will the vaccine affect people with allergies?
The NHS has now launched the biggest mass vaccination in history issuing a jab which protects against Covid-19.
The Pfizer/BioNTech was found to be safe and effective by the UK medicines regulator last week and has been approved for mass use.
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the vaccine, which is enough to vaccinate 20 million people.
So far, hundreds of Britons have been vaccinated and many more are expected to be vaccinated throughout this month.
Two other vaccines are in development and could soon be ready for widespread use.
UK regulators have issued a warning that people who have a history of “significant” allergic reactions should not currently receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine after two people who had the jab on Tuesday had allergic reactions.
What allergies could be affected by the vaccine?
Around one in 900,000 people have severe allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis to the vaccine.
An allergic reaction to a vaccine is very rare, but the NHS has advised people to speak to their doctor if they have known allergies involving eggs or gelatin for example.
University of Oxford vaccinology professor Sarah Gilbert told the Today programme: “What we should take away from it is that the vaccine is safe, it’s highly effective and one really important finding is that from 21 days after being given the first dose of the vaccine, nobody was admitted to hospital with Covid or had severe Covid disease.
“So, that’s a really important finding.
“We also report on the efficacy against symptomatic PCR-confirmed Covid – so that is a milder form of the disease where people aren’t needing to go into hospital – and, on average, the efficacy was 70 percent against that.
“But in a subgroup who had a half dose of the vaccine first followed by a full dose, it was 90 percent.”
Some people may be unable to receive vaccines because they will be allergic to one of the ingredients used to make the jab.
The Government’s website reads: “The vaccines do not contain living organisms, and so are safe for people with disorders of the immune system.
“These people may not respond so well to the vaccine.
“A very small number of people who are at risk of COVID-19 cannot have the vaccine – this includes people who have severe allergies to a component in the vaccine.”
Who else cannot have the vaccine?
The JCVI “favours a precautionary approach” to pregnant women getting the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
Pregnant women are instead advised to wait to have the vaccine until after they have given birth.
This is because there is a lack of evidence about how it may impact expectant mothers as pregnant women were not included in trials.
The JCVI said: “There are no data as yet on the safety of Covid-19 vaccines in pregnancy, either from human or animal studies.
“Given the lack of evidence, the JCVI favours a precautionary approach and does not currently advise Covid-19 vaccination in pregnancy.
“Women should be advised not to come forward for vaccination if they may be pregnant or are planning a pregnancy within three months of the first dose.”
Children under the age of 16 are also not permitted to get the vaccine because there is a lack of evidence it is safe for those under 16.
Most children infected with Covid-19 are either asymptomatic or experience mild symptoms.
The JCVI said: “The committee advises that only those children at very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes, such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities that require residential care, should be offered vaccination.”
Published at Wed, 09 Dec 2020 09:19:00 +0000