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The UK’s mass coronavirus vaccination programme is under way, but there are several groups of people who have been advised not to received the Pfizer COVID-19 jab.
People with a history of life-threatening allergic reactions, pregnant women and children are among those who are advised not to get the jab, after its rollout started this week.
The warning over people with a history of reactions came after two NHS staff members who received the vaccine on Tuesday suffered allergic reactions.
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said anaphylaxis was a “known … very rare side effect with any vaccine”.
Watch: What do warnings of allergic reactions mean?
Here are the groups of people advised not to have a COVID vaccine.
People with a history of severe allergic reactions
Dr Raine said: “Any person with a history of anaphylaxis to a vaccine, medicine or food should not receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. A second dose should not be given to anyone who has experienced anaphylaxis following administration of the first dose of this vaccine.
“Anaphylaxis is a known, although very rare, side effect with any vaccine. Most people will not get anaphylaxis and the benefits in protecting people against COVID-19 outweigh the risks.”
Dr Raine said a group including experts on allergy and clinical immunology had been convened to consider any possible mitigation to the “rare risk of anaphylaxis”.
She added: “You can be completely confident that this vaccine has met the MHRA’s robust standards of safety, quality and effectiveness.
“The safety data has also been critically assessed by the government’s independent advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines. No vaccine would be approved unless it meets these stringent standards – on that you can be sure.”
According to advice from the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), a lack of evidence around the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy means it does not advise that women have the jab.
It says: “There are no data as yet on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy, either from human or animal studies.
“Given the lack of evidence, JCVI favours a precautionary approach, and does not currently advise COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy.”
The advice says women should be advised not to come forward for vaccination if they may be pregnant or are planning a pregnancy within three months of receiving the first dose.
It said it is anticipating data which could inform discussions on vaccination in pregnancy and would review that data as soon as it is available.
The JCVI said only children at very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes should be offered the jab.
It said: “There is very limited data on vaccination in adolescents, with no data on vaccination in younger children, at this time.
“The committee advises that only those children at very high risk of exposure and serious outcomes, such as older children with severe neuro-disabilities that require residential care, should be offered vaccination.”
It said clinicians should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with a person with parental responsibility, who should be told about the relatively small amount of safety data for the vaccine in children aged under 16 years.
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