HomeNew: COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine and allergy updates from Health Canada and CSACI

New: COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine and allergy updates from Health Canada and CSACI

December 15, 2020

Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine
Photo credit: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Important updates from Health Canada and the CSACI: Read the full post for the complete details

As you know, Canada has approved the emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Last week it was reported that two healthcare workers in the UK with a history of severe allergic reactions experienced adverse reactions to this vaccine. This has prompted a concern about the safety of this vaccine for those at risk of anaphylaxis.

We immediately reached out to both Health Canada and Pfizer Canada to seek clarity and guidance on this situation last week. Health Canada has since posted an update stating that they have reviewed the available evidence and concluded that the available public health guidance and product monograph are appropriate and they are not recommending any changes to the product’s use at this time. They also have listed the medicinal and non-medicinal ingredients of the vaccine.

Should you take the vaccine?

The current guidance from Health Canada states:

  • If you know you have allergies to any of the ingredients in the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, you should not receive it.
  • If you have experienced a serious allergic reaction to another vaccine, drug, or food, you should talk to your health professional before you receive the vaccine.

NEW: CSACI statement

The Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI) has also released a statement today on the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Of particular note, the CSACI advised that it is safe to proceed with vaccination for COVID-19, unless you have a pre-existing allergy to a component of the vaccine.

They also noted the following:

  • The safety data in the clinical trials for this vaccine did not find a significant number of anaphylaxis events
  • The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has specifically identified polyethylene glycol (PEG) as a potential allergen of this vaccine however PEG has not been confirmed as the cause of the reactions in the UK
  • PEG is found in many products that are tolerated safely by Canadians, and there have been no reported cases of anaphylaxis to PEG in food and drinks
  • Those with allergic conditions are no more likely to experience an allergic reaction to this vaccine than the general public

Webinar series with Dr. Chan

Stay tuned: New webinar coming in January

To ensure you stay informed, we will be hosting a webinar with leading experts on this topic titled: “COVID-19 vaccine and allergy: Get the facts”. Stay tuned for more information on this, including how to register.

We will continue working with Health Canada and others to ensure the needs of the food allergy community are represented and that you have the most up-to-date information to make informed decisions.

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