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159. CDC Issues New Guidance About COVID-19 Vaccinations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance that says people with pre-existing conditions can still receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

But the guidance warns that “adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19.”


The CDC says the vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “may be administered to people with underlying medical conditions provided they have not had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.”

The CDC offers guidance for people who have weakened immune systems, autoimmune conditions, and for people who have Guillain-Barre syndrome and Bell’s palsy.

“People with HIV and those with weakened immune systems due to other illnesses or medication might be at increased risk for severe COVID-19. They may receive a COVID-19 vaccine. However, they should be aware of the limited safety data:

Information about the safety of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for people who have weakened immune systems in this group is not yet available.

People living with HIV were included in clinical trials, though safety data specific to this group are not yet available at this time.

People with weakened immune systems should also be aware of the potential for reduced immune responses to the vaccine, as well as the need to continue following all current guidance to protect themselves against COVID-19,” the CDC writes in the guidance, posted on its website on Saturday.

For people who have autoimmune conditions, “they should be aware that no data are currently available on the safety of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for them. Individuals from this group were eligible for enrollment in clinical trials.”

People who have previously had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) can also take the COVID-19 vaccine. “To date, no cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) have been reported following vaccination among participants in the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials.”

Meanwhile, the CDC says that while cases of Bell’s palsy were reported in participants in the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, the FDA “does not consider these to be above the rate expected in the general population. They have not concluded these cases were caused by vaccination.”

On Dec. 20, the CDC issued new guidance after reports of “severe allergic reactions” to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“CDC has learned of reports that some people have experienced severe allergic reactions — also known as anaphylaxis — after getting a COVID-19 vaccine,” the agency wrote on its website. “As an example, an allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine or EpiPen or if they must go to the hospital.”

“If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine, CDC recommends that you should not get that specific vaccine. If you have had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines or injectable therapies, you should ask your doctor if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor will help you decide if it is safe for you to get vaccinated,” the CDC wrote.

“CDC recommends that people with a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications — such as allergies to food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex — may still get vaccinated. People with a history of allergies to oral medications or a family history of severe allergic reactions, or who might have a milder allergy to vaccines (no anaphylaxis)—may also still get vaccinated.”

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