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Vaccine Rollout Continues Following Allergic Reaction Cluster At Petco Park

A health care worker getting vaccinated for COVID-19 at the Petco Park, San D...

Credit: County of San Diego

Above: A health care worker getting vaccinated for COVID-19 at the Petco Park, San Diego County vaccination super station, on Jan. 11, 2021.

UPDATE: 12:33 p.m., Jan. 18, 2021:

California's state epidemiologist is urging a halt to more than 300,000 coronavirus vaccinations using a Moderna vaccine version because some people received medical treatment for possible severe allergic reactions.

Dr. Erica S. Pan on Sunday recommended providers stop using lot 41L20A of the Moderna vaccine pending completion of an investigation by state officials, Moderna, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the federal Food and Drug Administration.

“Out of an extreme abundance of caution and also recognizing the extremely limited supply of vaccine, we are recommending that providers use other available vaccine inventory," Pan said in a statement.

She said more than 330,000 doses from the lot arrived in California between Jan. 5 and Jan. 12 and were distributed to 287 providers. Full story here.

Original story:

Things are back to normal at the Petco Park vaccination super station. County health authorities are now trying to figure out why six health care workers who received the COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday had allergic reactions.

On Wednesday morning, the operation slowed to a crawl after the allergic reactions happened one after the other.

“It was just the clustering of them together that led them to do a great slowdown to be able to assess the situation,” said County Deputy Public Health Director Dr. Eric McDonald at the County's Wednesday news conference.

We checked with the County to see if they’ve been able to determine what was behind the cluster of allergic reactions. They emailed us a brief statement: "We have not seen a report with specifics on what occurred so are unable to comment further … the FDA and CDC are the primary investigating authorities."

San Diego dermatologist Dr. Seaver Soon knows all about allergic reactions.

He said if you’ve had allergic reactions to vaccines before, you should talk to your doctor before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Soon said immediate reactions like the ones experienced at Petco are potentially the most dangerous. Still, an allergic reaction should not be confused with a normal immune response which some people may have after any vaccine.

"If you have kind of the delayed reactions like fever, general unwellness, body aches ... those are manageable and that allows you to get immunity,” Soon said.

Take the example of health care worker Deborah Walsh, who has really been through the wringer when it comes to COVID-19.

Walsh first contracted, and then recovered from the virus last summer. Then, on Dec. 30, she got the Moderna vaccine, the same one being given out at Petco Park.

“No fever but just felt pretty bad and I was pretty much stuck in bed all day,” Walsh said.

Then on New Year’s Day, Walsh said she woke up and felt just fine.

“From what I understand, if someone has had a previous infection then the immune response to the vaccine can be magnified, so that’s what I got,” she said.

RELATED: San Diego County Gets First Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery

We reached out to Moderna for comment, but no one returned our call or email.

Meantime, Walsh said she’s preparing herself for the second dose of the vaccine she’ll get next week. She said she’s already taken the next two days off after that to recover.

But even with what she’s been through, she still had this piece of advice: “I think everyone should get vaccinated.”

While the County works to figure out what’s behind the allergic reactions at Petco, the cost-benefit analysis for the vast majority of us seems clear. When the vaccine becomes available, we should all get it.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify the difference between an immediate allergic response to the vaccine versus a delayed and normal immune response, such as body aches.

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John Carroll
General Assignment Reporter & Anchor

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI'm a general assignment reporter and Saturday morning radio anchor for KPBS. I love coming up with story ideas that aren't being covered elsewhere, but I'm also ready to cover the breaking news of the day. In addition, I bring you the local news headlines on Saturday mornings during NPR's Weekend Edition.

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