JUNEAU, Alaska — Health officials in Alaska have reported that a second health care worker had an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine.
Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau says the two workers showed adverse reactions about 10 minutes after receiving the vaccine and were treated.
One received the vaccine Tuesday and will remain in the hospital another night under observation while the other, vaccinated Wednesday, has fully recovered.
U.S. health authorities warned doctors to be on the lookout for rare allergic reactions when they rolled out the first vaccine, made by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech.
In the U.S., vaccine recipients are supposed to hang around after the injection in case signs of an allergy appear and they need immediate treatment — exactly what happened when the health worker in Juneau.
The CDC said it is aware of the incident.
"Anaphylaxis is a rare event following vaccination and CDC is evaluating the case," the CDC said in a statement. "CDC and public health experts prepared for a side effect like this after reports of anaphylaxis were made in England. Appropriate medical treatment for severe allergic reactions must be immediately available in the event of an anaphylactic reaction occurs, the CDC said.
Britain had reported a few similar allergic reactions a week earlier.
Allergies are always a question with a new medical product, but monitoring COVID-19 vaccines for any other, unexpected side effects is a bigger challenge than usual.
It’s not just because so many people need to be vaccinated over the next year. Never before have so many vaccines made in different ways converged at the same time — and it’s possible that one shot option will come with different side effects than another.
Getting either the Pfizer-BioNTech shot or the Moderna version can cause some temporary discomfort, just like many vaccines do.
In addition to a sore arm, people can experience a fever and some flu-like symptoms — fatigue, aches, chills, headache. They last about a day, sometimes bad enough that recipients miss work, and are more common after the second dose and in younger people.
These reactions are a sign that the immune system is revving up. COVID-19 vaccines tend to cause more of those reactions than a flu shot, about what people experience with shingles vaccinations.