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Boston Medical Center Doctor Has Apparent First Allergic Reaction To Moderna Vaccine

RN Courtney Senechal unpacks a special refrigerated box of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines as she prepared to ready more supply for use at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center in Boston on Dec. 24. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)
RN Courtney Senechal unpacks a special refrigerated box of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines as she prepared to ready more supply for use at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center in Boston on Dec. 24. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

A Boston Medical Center doctor appears to have suffered the first known case of an allergic reaction to the coronavirus vaccine made by Cambridge biotech company, Moderna.

Dr. Hossein Sadrzadeh, an oncology fellow at BMC, said he has a severe shellfish allergy and immediately felt he was having a bad reaction after receiving his vaccine injection, The New York Times and CNN first reported Friday.

The doctor "is doing well today," David Kibbe, a spokesman for Boston Medical Center, said in a statement Saturday.

"The employee received the Moderna vaccine Thursday and, as is our standard practice, was being observed post vaccination by trained nurses," the hospital statement said. "He felt he was developing an allergic reaction and was allowed to self-administer his personal epi-pen."

Sadrzadeh was then taken to the hospital's emergency department, treated and discharged, the statement added. WBUR was not able to reach the doctor for comment Saturday.

While this appears to be the first allergic reaction to the Moderna vaccine, about a half-dozen cases of bad reactions to the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have been reported.

Last week, a health care worker in Maine experienced an anaphylactic reaction about 20 minutes after receiving a first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday at Maine Medical Center in Portland, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention told the public Wednesday. At that point, about 8,000 others had received the vaccine in Maine without incident.

"An anaphylactic reaction is a reaction that occurs in a small number of individuals, but is one that is serious," said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC. "The bottom line here, is that the system that we have in place to look out for reactions of this nature and make sure that they are properly managed and reported, worked exactly as they should."

The New York Times spoke with Dr. Merin Kuruvilla, an allergist and immunologist at Emory University, who noted that with more than 1 million injections already given to people across the U.S., the public — especially those without histories of severe allergies — should understand such reactions remain rare and not avoid getting the vaccine out of fear.

With additional reporting from WBUR's Paul Connearney

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Lisa Creamer Twitter Managing Editor, Digital
Lisa Creamer is WBUR's digital managing editor.

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