LONDON (AP) — Britain’s medical regulator warned Wednesday that people with a history of serious allergic reactions shouldn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, and investigators looked into whether two reactions on the first day of the U.K.’s vaccination program were linked to the shot.
The advice was issued on a “precautionary basis,” and the people who had the reactions had recovered, said professor Stephen Powis, medical director for National Health Service in England.
Pfizer and BioNTech said they were working with investigators “to better understand each case and its causes.″
Also on Wednesday, Canada’s health regulator approved the vaccine, with Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Heath Canada, calling it “a momentous occasion.”
Canada is set to receive up to 249,000 doses this month and Canadian officials expect to start administering them next week as soon after they are shipped from Belgium on Friday.
Britain’s Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has said people should not receive the shot if they have had a significant allergic reaction to a vaccine, medicine or food, such as those who have been told to carry an adrenaline shot — such as an EpiPen or other similar devices — or others who have had potentially fatal allergic reactions. The medical regulator also said vaccinations should be carried out only in facilities that have resuscitation equipment.
Such advice isn’t uncommon; several vaccines already on the market carry warnings about allergic reactions, and doctors know to watch for them when people who’ve had reactions to drugs or vaccines in the past are given new products.
The two people who reported reactions were NHS staff members who had a history of significant allergies and carried adrenaline shots. Both had serious reactions but recovered after treatment, the NHS said.
Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said the regulator had done the right thing, but the general public shouldn’t be worried about getting the vaccine.