Health Worker Hospitalized After Rare Vaccine Reaction

Alaska worker 'encouraged the rest of us to press on'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2020 3:25 PM CST
Health Worker Hospitalized After Rare Vaccine Reaction
A syringe contains a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska.   (Loren Holmes/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

As thousands of healthcare workers across the US receive the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, the first serious reaction has been reported. Authorities say a middle-aged worker in Alaska was hospitalized Tuesday after a rare allergic reaction, the New York Times reports. Two National Health Service workers in Britain also had severe anaphylactic reactions last week and recovered after treatment. Hospital officials say the American worker became unwell around 10 minutes after she received the vaccine at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau. She was taken to the hospital's emergency room and treated with epinephrine.

Emergency room medical director Dr. Lindy Jones tells the Anchorage Daily News that the woman spent Tuesday night in the ICU for observation and was in stable condition and "doing well" on Wednesday. "She was still enthusiastic that she got the vaccine and the benefits that it would give her in the future," Jones says, adding that the worker "encouraged the rest of us to press on." Pfizer spokeswoman Jerica Pitts tells the Times that the company recommends that the vaccine be administered in places where treatment for rare allergic reactions is available. "We will closely monitor all reports suggestive of serious allergic reactions following vaccination and update labeling language if needed," she says. (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)

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