A Boston Medical Center hematology oncology fellow developed a severe allergic reaction after receiving a dose of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine on Thursday.
Dr. Hossein Sadrzadeh’s reaction appears to be the first known case related to the Moderna vaccine, The New York Times and CNN reported Friday; a handful of allergic reactions related to the similar Pfizer vaccine have also been reported in the United States.
Sadrzadeh, who has a severe shellfish allergy, said that within moments of being vaccinated at the hospital on Thursday afternoon, his heart began racing. At first, he figured it was just stress or anxiety.
But within minutes, he noticed his tongue and throat were tingling and beginning to go numb. He began sweating profusely, went pale and was very cold. He described it as the worst allergic reaction he had experienced since he was 11.
Sadrzadeh came prepared. He brought his personal EpiPen with him to the vaccine appointment and used it after the allergic reaction began. He was being monitored by nurses when the allergic reaction started, according to a statement from the hospital, and he was taken to the emergency department to be evaluated, treated, and observed.
Sadrzadeh said he was feeling normal again by Friday morning.
“I feel that if I did not have my EpiPen with me, I would be intubated right now, because it was that severe,” he said.
A health care worker in Maine with a history of severe allergies had a reaction to Pfizer’s vaccine earlier this week, and federal regulators are monitoring a handful of other reported allergic reactions.
Most side effects seen in Moderna’s clinical studies — soreness, fever, headache, and fatigue — were considered mild or moderate but not dangerous. A relatively small number of people experienced more serious adverse events.
Sadrzadeh said he hopes his story will encourage anyone else with a history of allergies to arm themselves with information before getting their vaccine — and bring their EpiPen with them when they do get vaccinated.
He also recommended that people with allergies get their coronavirus vaccine in a hospital setting, rather than at a community provider.
“I really want people to take this seriously, those people who have severe allergic reactions. I want them to talk to their doctors, to their allergist. I want them to carry their EpiPen if they have it at home and also inform the person that is administering that injection to them that they have a severe allergic reaction,” he said. “I knew the symptoms. I had the experience. I was a physician, and I was scared to death. Imagine someone who does not have the information.”
Sadrzadeh also reached out to Moderna to offer them a blood sample in an effort to figure out what ingredient in their vaccine may spark an allergic reaction for some people.
“I really don’t want anybody to go and experience this and go through this event that I had,” he said.