Experts want greater transparency about delayed skin reactions some people get from Moderna vaccine

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  • A number of different Covid-19 vaccines are currently being administered globally
  • A group of researchers revealed that one vaccine in particular – Moderna –  may cause a delayed skin reaction
  • They emphasised that this information should not cause alarm, and should instead be used to guide clinicians and patients

While Covid-19 vaccinations are well underway globally, a group of researchers noted that it is important that people are informed properly about delayed side-effects caused by vaccines.

Published in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) wrote a letter to the editor where they noted that clinical data from the Moderna vaccine trial showed that a few participants (out of 30 000) had a delayed skin reaction to the vaccine. 

Skin reactions after vaccination

The team noted their own observations in the letter, and reported on 12 people who experienced reactions: Symptoms appeared four to eleven days after the first dose of the vaccine, and only half of the patients experienced a milder reaction around 48 hours after the second dose. Some individuals received treatment for the reactions like ice and antihistamines, while one patient was incorrectly treated with antibiotics.

“Delayed cutaneous hypersensitivity could be confused – by clinicians and patients alike – with a skin infection,” said co-author Erica Shenoy. “These types of reactions, however, are not infectious and thus should not be treated with antibiotics.”

In the group of 12, symptoms cleared up around a week after the onset. 

Not to cause alarm, but to make patients and clinicians aware

The team highlighted that their observations are not meant to cause alarm or prevent people from getting vaccinated, but rather to prepare them for possible side effects.  

“Whether you've experienced a rash at the injection site right away or this delayed skin reaction, neither condition should prevent you from getting the second dose of the vaccine,” said lead author Kimberly Blumenthal.

“Our immediate goal is to make physicians and other care providers aware of this possible delayed reaction, so they are not alarmed, but instead well-informed and equipped to advise their patients accordingly.”

Co-author of the letter, Esther Freeman, who is the director of Global Health Dermatology at MGH went on to say: “For most people who are experiencing this, we believe it's tied to the body's immune system going to work. Overall, these data are reassuring and should not discourage people from getting the vaccine.”

Image credit: Unsplash 
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