Covid vaccine: The side effect appearing up to ‘1 month’ after getting the Pfizer booster

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The UK’s vaccination record is world-beating, with more than three quarters of the population now fully vaccinated. The booster campaign has been key to neutralising the threat posed by the new Omicron variant, which evades some of the antibodies induced by two shots. Millions of people have now been jabbed without experiencing serious side effects. The benefits of getting jabbed therefore outweigh the vanishingly small risks. However, serious side effects are being reported in a small number of the population.

A new case study published on Wednesday in the International Journal of Dermatology documented cases of bullous pemphigoid showing up after getting the Covid vaccine.

Bullous pemphigoid is a rare skin condition that causes large, fluid-filled blisters.

Researchers reported a case series of seven patients with bullous pemphigoid, four of which had a new-onset bullous pemphigoid following vaccination and three had a post-vaccine exacerbation of a previous bullous pemphigoid.

“To date, in our tertiary referral center, which also includes a specialized Autoimmune Blistering Disease Outpatient Department, we have observed four patients with new-onset BP [bullous pemphigoid] and three patients with exacerbation of previous BP [bullous pemphigoid] following COVID-19 vaccination,” the researchers wrote.

In two of four cases with new-onset disease, bullous pemphigoid was observed after the second dose of inactivated CoronaVac and in two of them after the first dose of mRNA Pfizer-BioNTech which was administered as a third vaccine.

“On the other hand, all three patients who experienced a flare of previous BP were vaccinated with inactivated CoronaVac,” the researchers noted.

According to the researchers, “the latency period” for the side effect varied between “two weeks to one month” after vaccination.

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The shortest timeframe before the symptom showed up was one week after the first dose in one patient, they added.

This study is not the first to document bullous pemphigoid following Covid vaccination.

In a study published last year in the journal Dermatologic Therapy, researchers reported a case of a 83-year-old man with a 30 days history of multiple erythemas and blisters with itching.

He was generally in “quite good health” with no other significant medical conditions, they said.

“His family history was negative for significant diseases and skin disorders.”

The patient developed the first bullous lesions one week after the first dose of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Blisters were few and located only on his legs and they were initially misdiagnosed as post-traumatic lesions by his general practitioner.

Three days after the second dose of vaccine, which was administrated one month after the first, the patient started developing new blisters on his limbs and trunk.

Bullous pemphigoid – key symptoms

Bullous pemphigoid blisters develop on areas of skin that often flex — such as the lower abdomen, upper thighs or armpits, explains the Mayo Clinic.

The signs and symptoms of bullous pemphigoid may include:

  1. Itching skin, weeks or months before blisters form
  2. Large blisters that don’t easily rupture when touched, often along creases or folds in the skin
  3. Skin around the blisters that is normal, reddish or darker than normal
  4. Eczema or a hive-like rash
  5. Small blisters or sores in the mouth or other mucous membranes (benign mucous membrane pemphigoid).

“The blisters occur because of a malfunction in your immune system,” explains the Mayo Clinic.

The health body continues: “Your body’s immune system normally produces antibodies to fight bacteria, viruses or other potentially harmful foreign substances. For reasons that are not clear, the body may develop an antibody to a particular tissue in your body.

“In bullous pemphigoid, the immune system produces antibodies to the fibers that connect the outer layer of skin (epidermis) and the next layer of skin (dermis). These antibodies trigger inflammation that produces the blisters and itching of bullous pemphigoid.”

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