The temporary advice was given in December. The MHRA soon revised its decision.
On December 9, 2020, the Guardian reported that the U.K. medicines regulator had warned the NHS that people with a history of allergies should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This was a temporary measure, which was brought about after two NHS workers with allergies experienced "anaphylactoid" symptoms after taking the vaccine. Both had had allergic reactions in the past and were said to have made a good recovery.
Professor Stephen Powis, the national medical director for NHS England, told the Guardian: "As is common with new vaccines, the MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency] have advised on a precautionary basis that people with a significant history of allergic reactions do not receive this vaccination after two people with a history of significant allergic reactions responded adversely yesterday. Both are recovering well.”
On December 30, following increased surveillance of vaccines, MHRA reversed its decision.
The British Medical Association notes that the change in guidelines has received very little media coverage. It adds that after surveillance of over one million doses of the vaccine, there is no increased risk of anaphylaxis among those with allergies. A CDC report has stated that there is an 11 out of a million chance of suffering anaphylaxis after receiving the vaccine.
Guidance on the NHS Specialist Pharmacy Service’s website states that the MHRA has said that anyone who had an adverse reaction to a previous dose or any component of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine may still be able to receive the vaccine by assessing the risk with an allergist. It says that those with allergies to certain foods, bee stings, or vaccines can receive it.
It adds that those who get a localized allergic reaction to the first dose vaccine, like itchy skin, can receive the second dose of the vaccine as long as they are somewhere with resuscitation facilities (i.e. in a hospital).
While at one point the NHS was advised to avoid giving vaccines to those with allergies, the advice has now changed as evidence shows that the chances of experiencing a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis after receiving the vaccine are extremely low.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.