Individuals with a historical past of "vital" allergic reactions shouldn't have Pfizer shot, warns the UK regulator

Assistant Nurse Katie McIntosh gives Vivien McKay, Clinical Nurse Manager at Western General Hospital, the first of two Pfizer / BioNTech COVID-19 stitches on the first day of the largest vaccination program in UK history in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK December 8 2020.

Andrew Milligan | Reuters

LONDON – People with a history of "significant" allergic reactions should not currently receive the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the UK Medicines Agency said on Wednesday.

The UK Medicines and Health Products regulator has updated its guidance to UK health authorities on who should receive the vaccine, noting that "anyone has a history of significant allergic reaction to a vaccine, drug or food (as in a history of "having had an anaphylactoid reaction or people advised to wear an adrenaline auto-injector should not receive the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine."

The precautionary advice came after two members of the UK's National Health Service who received the vaccine on Tuesday had allergic reactions to the shot. Both are recovering well, according to the NHS national medical director.

"As is common practice with new vaccines, the MHRA has issued a precautionary warning that people with a significant history of allergic reactions will not receive this vaccination," said Professor Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said in a statement from NHS England Wednesday.

The UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine last week. A massive vaccination campaign began on Tuesday that began in hospitals, with health and nursing home workers and those over 80 being vaccinated first.

Dr. June Raine, head of MHRA, told a UK government selection committee on Wednesday that the regulator would maintain "real-time vigilance" of the vaccine once it is used.

"Last night we looked at two case reports of allergic reactions," she said.

"We know from extensive clinical studies that this was not a feature. However, if we need to step up our advice after having this experience in vulnerable populations, the priority groups, we will get that advice on the spot immediately."

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