What happened with the Pfizer vaccine and is it a cause for concern? As watchdog issues warning after NHS staff have adverse reaction to Covid-19 jab, we answer your questions about the inoculation

 What happened with the Pfizer vaccine?

Two NHS staff developed symptoms of an allergic reaction on Tuesday shortly after getting the jab. They had histories of allergic reactions.

How quickly was this acted upon?

The MHRA, the vaccines regulator, looked at the cases on Tuesday night and issued guidance yesterday. 

It has now given precautionary advice to NHS trusts involved in the vaccines programme that anyone who has a history of ‘significant’ allergic reactions to medicines, food or vaccines should not receive the jab.

A patient is getting the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine (stock)

Is this a cause for concern?

Such reactions are not common. Trials of the Pfizer vaccine so far show only 0.6 per cent of people given the jab developed an allergic reaction. 

Scientists suggest there is only a ‘small chance’ of such reactions, and both NHS staff are ‘recovering well’.

Why wasn’t it noticed before?

The Pfizer trial has enrolled 44,000 people but even large ‘phase three’ studies like that one do not pick up every reaction to a jab. 

Rarer side-effects can emerge after larger numbers of people are vaccinated.

Is the vaccine safe?

There have been no serious safety concerns, according to the interim results from trials, with fatigue and headaches the most common side-effects.

Dr June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, which approved the jab, said it ‘meets all international standards on safety’.

What happens now?

People having the jab will be asked about their history of allergic reactions. 

The MHRA continues to monitor the effects of vaccines even after they are approved.

Who else has been advised not to get the jab?

Pregnant women and those planning to conceive over the next three months should not get the jab because there is not enough data on its effect on them. 

Women who are breastfeeding are advised to get the vaccine only after they have weaned their child. 

Children under the age of 16 should not have the jab.

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