US health officials closely tracking possible side effects of the first authorized COVID-19 vaccine said on Saturday they have seen at least six cases of severe allergic reactions out of more than a quarter million shots given – prompting one Illinois hospital to pause vaccinations.
Medical experts said that a chemical called polyethylene glycol (PEG), a compound most commonly used in laxatives, ‘could be the culprit’ causing the reactions.
PEG is an ingredient in the Pfizer vaccine as well as the Moderna Inc vaccine authorized on Friday.
But the Food and Drug Administration has said that most Americans with allergies should be safe to receive the vaccine. It said only people who have previously had severe allergic reactions to vaccines or ingredients in this particular vaccine should avoid getting the shot.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said more than 272,000 shots of the Pfizer vaccine were given nationwide as of Saturday morning.
The half-dozen cases of allergic reaction were reported as of Friday night, and included one person with a history of vaccination reactions.
A medical facility in Illinois temporarily stopped COVID-19 vaccinations after four healthcare workers experienced adverse reactions to the shots.
Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville stopped the vaccinations on Friday and will resume them on Sunday.
The unidentified employees experienced reactions that included tingling and elevated heart rate just moments after taking the vaccine, ABC 7 reports.