SALT LAKE CITY – A woman in Alaska has become the first person in the United States to have a life threatening reaction to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Despite this, many doctors in Utah say the vaccine is safe.
Intermountain Healthcare Medical Director for Community Health Dr. Tamara Sheffield says serious reactions happen every year with traditional vaccines.
“What’s expected with any vaccine is that about one case in a million will [trigger] anaphylactic reactions,” Sheffield says.
Sheffield says that is why they monitor people for 30 minutes after they get a shot. If there is an adverse reaction, people can be treated right away.
University of Utah Infectious Diseases Division Chief Dr. Sankar Swaminathan is also not surprised that someone had a bad reaction to the vaccine. However, he asks people to put things in perspective.
The Alaskan woman’s experience is one out of more than 35,000.
“We have to remember that they are extremely, extremely rare. We’ll have to monitor it to see how common it is, but I would expect that it’s going to remain extremely uncommon,” Swaminathan said.
Sheffield advises people to weighing whether to get the vaccine to consider the risks.
“When you look at the balance of risks and harms, it’s a very low risk for something like this to happen. If you look at the risk of an individual having severe disease, ongoing complications, or dying from the COVID-19 virus, that’s a high risk,” Sheffield says.
Swaminathan also tells people to speak with their healthcare professional about the risks before getting the vaccine.
The Utah Department of Health is not recommending Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women and people under 16. The Food and Drug Administration says people who have had a severe allergic to a vaccine before also should not get it.
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