SINGAPORE: Three cases of anaphylaxis - or rapid onset of severe allergic reactions - were reported out of the more than 113,000 people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine to date, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Thursday (Jan 28).
“The individuals, in their 20s and 30s, developed multiple symptoms such as rash, breathlessness, lip swelling, throat tightness and giddiness,” said MOH.
“All three individuals had a history of allergies, including allergic rhinitis and food allergy such as to shellfish, but none had a history of anaphylaxis which would have precluded them from receiving the vaccine.”
It added: “Anaphylaxis can be controlled when detected and treated in a timely manner. As all vaccinated persons in Singapore are closely monitored, the symptoms in these three individuals were promptly detected and treated."
All three have recovered from the episode and were discharged from the hospital after a day’s observation or treatment.
Anyone who develops anaphylaxis to the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine should not receive the second dose, according to MOH's website.
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MOH said the incidence rate of anaphylaxis locally is currently about 2.7 per 100,000 doses administered, similar to rates reported abroad.
Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, director of medical services at MOH said that anaphylaxis was a known side effect of the vaccine.
“Anaphylaxis is a known but rare side effect of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. As with all vaccines, there will always be a small proportion of susceptible persons who experience severe allergic reactions upon vaccination," he said.
"We have put in place precautionary measures such as pre-vaccination screening and post-vaccination observation, to ensure that our vaccination programme can be carried out safely."
MOH added that the benefits of getting vaccinated far outweigh the risk of any potential adverse events known to be associated with vaccination, and that the ministry will “closely monitor the safety of the vaccine and ensure the vaccines used in Singapore are safe for our population groups, as we roll out our vaccination programme".
As of Jan 27, the ministry said it received 432 "adverse event reports" from healthcare workers.
"Most of these reports were for regular symptoms such as injection site pain and swelling, fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, giddiness, nausea and allergic reactions (such as itch, rash, swelling of eyes or lip).
"These symptoms are reactions generally associated with all vaccinations and they generally resolved on their own within a few days," the ministry said.
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NEW VACCINE INJURY FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMME FOR COVID-19
MOH also announced a new scheme to provide financial assistance in the rare event of serious side effects that related to COVID-19 vaccines administered in Singapore. Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders will be eligible.
The vaccine injury financial assistance programme will provide the following tiers of financial support:
- A one-time pay-out of up to S$10,000 will be provided to an eligible individual who is hospitalised requiring care in the High Dependency or Intensive Care Unit but subsequently recovers from medically significant serious side effects; and
- A one-time pay-out of S$225,000 will be provided to an individual who dies or suffers permanent severe disability as a result of COVID-19 vaccination.
An independent clinical panel has been put together to "assess and adjudicate" applications, MOH said. An individual must have received the vaccine in Singapore and "experienced a serious side effect that is potentially life-threatening or fatal, and has required inpatient hospitalisation or has caused persistent incapacity or disability", the ministry added.