People with anaphylaxis history should not receive second shot: NITAG

Health Ministry organized sensitization on Covid-19 second dose vaccination for media

10 people were managed as anaphylaxis after administration of the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine

Lhakpa Tshering

As Bhutan is all set to start the second dose of Covid-19 vaccines rollout from 20 July, the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) for Covid-19 has cautioned people with history of anaphylaxis – severe allergic reactions – to not get the second dose.

This group, they said, were people who have experienced severe allergic reactions following administration of the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and are certainly at risk of reactions after the second dose.

Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to a trigger with symptoms including feeling faint, having difficulty breathing, and having a fast heartbeat. The reaction requires immediate medical intervention and treatment.

Following the first round of Covid-19 vaccination, the National Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) Committee completed an in-depth case review of some severe events which the committee said only 10 cases were managed as anaphylaxis.

Dr GP Dhakal who is a NITAG member said that it has been recommended against vaccination for that group of people. “Whoever had the anaphylaxis in the first round, we are not giving the second jab,” he said, adding the minimal risk is always associated though the internal content is different.

Given a few people with a history of significant allergic reactions to prior vaccines, the risk against the benefit of vaccination in protecting people is zero.

Dr Dhakal said that since over 80 to 90 percent of the total eligible population for vaccination will be immunized, this group of 10 people will be automatically protected. “They already got one dose that will give some protection against Covid-19,” he added.

Other countries with high cases of anaphylaxis, he said, are considering giving them the second vaccine. “But in Bhutan, the number is very small,” he added. “We don’t want to risk their lives,” he said.

When asked about the people travelling abroad during the coronavirus pandemic who might require records for both rounds of dose, he said, they would write to the country telling that person is anaphylactic and cannot receive the vaccines.

Another NITAG member, Dr Sonam Wangchuk said that they have disabled that group of people from receiving subsequent Covid-19 vaccines. “We had blocked them in the system. We have their phone numbers and we will not give them the second dose,” he added.

Other minor cases of adverse events following immunization (AEFI) can get their second dose like the rest of the eligible population to be fully vaccinated.

In the meantime, after the successful implementation of its first dose three months ago, 9,402 minor side effects were reported of 482,716 vaccinated individuals, which is over 90 percent of the eligible population.

Of these various degrees of side effects, the most commonly reported adverse events were headaches with 34 percent followed by fever and nausea reported as 17 percent and 12 percent, respectively.