Oregon Health Care Worker Hospitalized After Getting COVID-19 Vaccine

January 1, 2021 Updated: January 1, 2021

A health care worker in Oregon was hospitalized this week after suffering a severe allergic reaction to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The worker is employed by Wallowa Memorial Hospital. The worker, who was not identified, is recovering at a hospital after experiencing the reaction, or anaphylaxis, the Oregon Health Authority said in a statement.

The hospital shared the authority’s statement but gave no further information.

The reaction was one of the first reported to Moderna’s vaccine, which was authorized at a later date than the one made by Pfizer and BioNTech. A Moderna spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, there is “a remote chance” that Moderna’s vaccine could cause a severe allergic reaction. The reaction would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after getting injected, drug regulators said in a fact sheet.

Signs of a severe allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, and dizziness.

“Those who have had an immediate allergic reaction—even if it was not severe—to a vaccine or injectable therapy for any disease should ask their health care provider if they should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your provider will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated,” the authority said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said people who have experienced a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the approved vaccines should not get them. If people experience a reaction to the first dose—people are supposed to get two doses, spaced across 21 days—they should not get the second dose.

While the vaccines are approved under emergency use authorization, they were the fastest-approved vaccines in history.

A federal panel said last month that surveillance of both vaccines “will be critical to detect any rare serious adverse events which were not identified” in the phase 3 clinical trial.

Epoch Times Photo
A member of the military is injected with Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, on Dec. 29, 2020. (United States Forces Korea via Getty Images)

Trial volunteers for Moderna’s vaccine experienced a range of side effects, including fatigue, headache, and chills. Severe adverse reactions were reported in about 1 percent of the trial participants. Five people died, three of whom received a placebo, according to trial results published this week.

Thousands of vaccine recipients have self-reported negative symptoms. The number of severe allergic reactions is not clear. A CDC spokeswoman told The Epoch Times last week that the agency is working on a plan for reporting adverse reactions to the vaccines. She didn’t respond to a follow-up inquiry this week.

“As with any medicine that is being distributed to millions of people, we expect to see some side effects. Rare, but serious side effects can happen. There have been several people who after the vaccine have had severe allergic reactions. CDC takes these reports very seriously and has been meeting regularly with the FDA, our partner in monitoring vaccine safety, to discuss,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters during a call on Wednesday.

Approximately 2.8 million Americans have been vaccinated as of Thursday morning, according to the CDC.

Some adverse reactions are detailed in the agency’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. One example took place in Alaska on Dec. 17 with Pfizer’s vaccine.

The person getting the vaccine was a 40-year-old woman with a history of severe allergic reaction to a flu vaccine. She chose to proceed despite being told vaccination could be deferred until more information about the vaccine becomes known. She developed “throat tightening” approximately 20 minutes after vaccination, according to the medical report. She received an EpiPen and was sent to the emergency room.

Federal officials have said they’re investigating what causes the anaphylaxis. But they say most people should still get the vaccines.

“It’s widely recommended for everyone because we know it’s 95 percent effective, as much as 100 percent effective at preventing severe disease,” Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health and part of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said during a recent TV appearance. “And this is the way we end the pandemic, by getting 70 percent or 80 percent of the American people vaccinated.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber