Boston Doctor Has Allergic Reaction to Moderna's COVID Vaccine, Uses Own EpiPen

It's the first known allergic reaction to Moderna's coronavirus vaccine, according to The New York Times

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A Boston doctor had an allergic reaction after receiving Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, according to the hospital where he works, but is doing well.

Boston Medical Center confirmed Friday night that Dr. Hossein Sadrzadeh, who reportedly has a severe shellfish allergy, was taken to the emergency department after his first dose of the Cambridge-based company's vaccine.

It's the first known allergic reaction to Moderna's coronavirus vaccine, according to The New York Times, though other vaccines now in use have also been known to cause allergic reactions in rare cases. More than 35,000 people have gotten the vaccine in Massachusetts as of Tuesday, according to the state's new dashboard.

Sadrzadeh, a geriatric oncology fellow, was being observed by nurses after he was injected with the vaccination, following the hospital's protocol for all recipients, when he began to feel that he was developing an allergic reaction, according to a BMC spokesman.

Sadrzadeh had his own personal EpiPen with him and used it on himself, then was taken to the emergency department for evaluation, treatment and observation before being discharged. As of Friday, he is doing well, the hospital representative said.

British officials are investigating reports that two people who received the Pfizer vaccine had allergic reactions. Medical experts say that while reactions are rare, they aren’t unheard of for vaccines of any kind and are usually short-lived.

U.S. health officials say both Moderna's and Pfizer's coronavirus vaccines are safe, and medical experts agree allergic reactions from vaccines are rare, but they can sometimes happen.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that, "If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine ... you should not get that specific vaccine. If you have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable therapies, you should ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated."

Just over 1 million people in the U.S. had received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine as of Wednesday morning, according to the CDC, and only a handful of reactions to them had qualified as anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.

It's unclear why some people are experiencing allergic reactions after getting the shots. Fatigue, headaches and muscle pain have been noted as the most common side effects from Moderna's vaccine, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Moderna and Pfizer have now both reported that their COVID-19 vaccines have been highly effective in trials. But how do they work, and what are the differences between the two? Benjamin Neuman, a professor of biological studies at Texas A&M, breaks down the specifics of both vaccines.

A study being led by a team at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is looking at why some people have suffered from severe allergic reactions and is expected to include several hundred people who have a history of severe allergic reactions.

Within moments of receiving the shot containing the vaccine, Sadrzadeh's heart began racing, then felt his tongue and throat tingling and begin to go numb, he told The Boston Globe. He called it the worst allergic reaction he has experienced since he was 11 -- he's allergic to shellfish.

But Sadrzadeh told the newspaper that he was feeling normal again by Friday morning, and hopes his story will encourage anyone else with a history of allergies to educate themselves with information before getting their vaccine.

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine started to arrive in Massachusetts on Tuesday, as part of a shipment of more than 116,000 doses. The delivery added to 59,475 doses from Pfizer that were distributed in the state in the first week they arrived. Of that, Boston Medical Center had received its first shipment of 75,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine on top of the 2,000 doses from Pfizer, which they have already begun administering to staff and patients.

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