PEOPLE with "significant allergies" have been warned by officials not to take the Covid-19 vaccine.
Two NHS workers who received the landmark Pfizer Covid jab on V Day have suffered allergic reactions needing treatment.
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The staff members both had a "significant history of allergic reactions" to the extent where they need to carry an EpiPen or similar device, the NHS confirmed.
They developed symptoms of "anaphylactoid reaction" shortly after receiving the vaccine.
NHS England confirmed both are now recovering and all trusts involved with the vaccination programme have been informed.
Regulators at the MHRA have now warned anyone else with a history of “significant” allergic reactions to medicines, food or vaccines should not receive the jab.
This means that anyone scheduled to receive the vaccine on Wednesday will be asked about their history of allergic reactions.
The MHRA advice states: "Any person with a history of a significant allergic reaction to a vaccine, medicine or food (such as previous history of anaphylactoid reaction or those who have been advised to carry an adrenaline autoinjector) should not receive the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine.
"Resuscitation facilities should be available at all times for all vaccinations. Vaccination should only be carried out in facilities where resuscitation measures are available."
Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction which can cause breathing difficulties, confusion, vomiting or collapse.
The MHRA added should anyone else given the jab suffer any suspected adverse reactions, to report it via the Yellow Card scheme.
The two NHS staff members were one of hundreds of Brits who became the first people in the world to receive the Pfizer vaccine yesterday.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS in England, said: "As is common with new vaccines the MHRA have advised on a precautionary basis that people with a significant history of allergic reactions do not receive this vaccination after two people with a history of significant allergic reactions responded adversely yesterday.
"Both are recovering well."
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said today the cases were being investigated.
She added: "I may share with the committees that even last evening, we were looking at two case reports of allergic reactions.
"We know from the very extensive clinical trials that this wasn't a feature."
Dr Raine told the Commons Science and Technology Committee today that regulators had been aware of the reactions since Tuesday night.
She said careful plans had been made for “real-time vigilance” when monitoring side effects from vaccinations.
Any updates to advice for patients would be communicated “immediately”.
She said: “The role is before, during and after, and there is a true end-to-end looking from the scientific laboratory bench through to the patient who yesterday first received the vaccine.
“As an illustration to this, I may share with the committee that even last evening we were looking at two case reports of allergic reaction.
“We know from the very extensive clinical trials that this wasn’t a feature but if we need to strengthen our advice now that we have had this experience in the vulnerable populations … we will get that advice to the field immediately.”
It is not clear if the trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab included volunteers with known allergies. The final results are not published in a medical journal.
Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, said the NHS and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are in a “very good position” to pick up issues with any vaccine.
“Dr (June) Raine talked about identifying things once a vaccine is in use,” he told the Commons Science and Technology and Health and Social Care committees.
“The initial process, very importantly, picks up common side effects, that’s what the big phase two and then subsequently, if they are safe, phase three clinical trials allow to happen.
“But extremely rare but important issues, inevitably you accrue more information over time.
“The NHS through to the MHRA is in a very good position to make sure that we can pick things up quickly, identifying them, communicate them widely, ensure that we improve practice.”
The news will come as a huge blow to millions of people with allergies.
The World Allergy Organisation (WAO) estimate between 10 and 40 per cent of the population have an allergy, according to Allergy UK, although most of these will not be severe.
Some of the most common allergies, according to the NHS, are to foods like nuts, fruit, shellfish, eggs and cow's milk, and medicines such as ibuprofen, antibiotics and penicillin.
Yesterday was dubbed V Day as the first people in the world were given the Covid vaccine in a massive step towards demolishing the disease.
Margaret Keenan, 90, was given the first jab in Coventry just after 6.30am marking the start of a phased NHS rollout of the vaccine to older people, health staff and care home workers.
GPs are now due to start booking Covid vaccine appointments within days with the UK readying itself for the arrival one million more jabs.
Two more consignments of the vaccine will be delivered both next week and the following week – on top of the initial 800,000 doses.
This means the NHS should now have four million doses of the jab before Christmas.
More to follow…
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