Oregon health care worker hospitalized after severe reaction to Moderna coronavirus

A Wallowa Memorial Hospital employee had a severe allergic reaction to an initial dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine this week, state health officials said Thursday.

The health care worker has been hospitalized and continues to recover, according to a statement provided by the Oregon Health Authority. The agency did not say if the person had a history of allergic reactions.

It is the first time state officials have reported a case of an Oregonian having a severe allergic reaction to a coronavirus vaccine since immunizations began mid-December.

The case is also notable because, until recently, only Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were known to sometimes cause severe allergic reactions. The first known severe reaction to the Moderna vaccine occurred Dec. 24, according to The New York Times.

Federal health officials say there is a “remote” chance of the Moderna vaccine triggering a severe allergic reaction, usually within an hour of somebody getting the shot. Normal reactions to the vaccine include pain at the injection site, fatigue, nausea and headaches.

A federal analysis of the Moderna vaccine found that those who had received a shot appeared no more likely to have a serious reaction than those who hadn’t. But, given that the vaccine was tested and approved on a dramatically faster timeline than is normal, officials indicated future data could yet show otherwise.

“Surveillance will be critical to detect any rare serious adverse events which were not identified in the clinical trial,” the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices said earlier this month.

The health authority has urged people who have had severe allergic reactions to other vaccines to talk with their doctors about whether it’s safe for them to get a shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

About 38,700 Oregonians have received their first dose of either the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, 68 of them in Wallowa County. Moderna vaccines account for 12,054 of the doses administered, the health authority said.

At 529 doses administered per 100,000 people, Oregon has one of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, according to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

— Fedor Zarkhin; fzarkhin@oregonian.com; 503-294-7674

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