56 reports of 'adverse events' following COVID-19 vaccinations in B.C.
B.C.'s COVID-19 vaccine distribution began on Dec. 15, 2020. (Province of BC/Flickr)
VANCOUVER -- After administering nearly 120,000 doses of the two COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada, British Columbia has now received 56 reports of "adverse events" following immunization.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed the numbers at her coronavirus briefing Monday, revealing 10 vaccine recipients reportedly suffered anaphylaxis after receiving their shot.
"That's about eight per 100,000," Henry said. "That is slightly more than we would expect based on other immunization programs, such as for influenza."
One of the patients who suffered anaphylaxis was hospitalized, but all 10 recovered.
Another 16 vaccine recipients suffered other allergic reactions and one experienced Bell's palsy, or paralysis of some of the muscles in the face. The condition is generally not permanent.
"That's something that we've seen reported in the trials for this vaccine as well," Henry noted. "So far, there has been no associated deaths from immunization, and we are monitoring all of the safety signals very carefully."
Henry did not provide a breakdown of how many of the adverse events followed a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and how many followed the Moderna vaccine.
Health officials and the manufactures have always said a small number of adverse reactions are likely given how many people are expected to take the vaccine in the coming months.
The potential for an adverse or allergic reaction is why doctors, nurses and pharmacists typically ask patients to wait 15 minutes after receiving any immunization.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control's "after care sheet" for the COVID-19 vaccine notes that some people may wish to wait longer – around 30 minutes – if there are concerns about a possible allergic reaction.
According to ImmunizeBC, there are some common and mild reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine, such as soreness and swelling near the injection spot – a side effect also commonly associated with the annual flu shot.
"Vaccines are very safe," the ImmunizeBC website notes. "It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get COVID-19."
As of Monday, British Columbia has given out 119,850 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, the vast majority of which were first doses. Only 3,193 people have received a second dose for far.
Henry also announced the province is temporarily extending the interval between doses to 42 days after learning the amount B.C. was expecting to receive in the first week of February has been "dramatically reduced."
The provincial health officer also cautioned that B.C. "does not know how much, if any, vaccine we'll be receiving the following two weeks in February."
"This means we can use what little supply we have right now to finish our long-term care home immunizations and to address outbreaks that are happening in our hospitals and our communities," Henry said.