Doctor Stresses Rash Man Developed After COVID Vaccine Is Extremely Rare

A Virginia man who was hospitalized this month after suffering a severe skin reaction following the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine was a rare case that should not put people off receiving their doses, a doctor has said.

Fnu Nutan, a dermatology hospitalist at Virginia Commonwealth University Health, was on the team assigned to treat 74-year-old patient Richard Terrell. He is believed to be the first person to have experienced the specific skin reaction to the vaccine.

"I want to reassure people we have seen worse skin reactions in patients with COVID... this reaction is recognizable and treatable," Dr. Nutan told Newsweek.

Dr. Nutan, who stressed she is a supporter of vaccination and Terrell's case should "not scare people," said it would be appropriate to describe the reaction as extremely rare. The team are submitting their findings to a medical journal this week.

Images released by the VCU Health Dermatology showed the man suffering from a deep red rash across his calves and legs, with flakey skin stretching across his back.

According to local news outlet WATE, the 74-year-old was administered the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine on March 6 and started having symptoms four days later. He was admitted to hospital on March 19 and spent five days under care.

Terrell said. "I began to feel a little discomfort in my armpit and then a few days later I began to get an itchy rash, and then after that I began to swell and my skin turned red. It all just happened so fast. My skin peeled off. It's still coming off on my hands now."

The patient, who is now recovering at his home in Goochland County, was deemed to have suffered a severe reaction from a drug, based on the results of a biopsy.

Dr. Nutan said the condition was possibly due to genetic makeup and could have been life-threatening if untreated. She said: "Skin is the largest organ in the body, and when it gets inflamed like his was, you can lose a lot of fluids and electrolytes."

But it was again stressed that the symptoms are extremely rare. Dr. Nutan said: "If you look at the risk for adverse reaction for the vaccine it's really, really low."

Multiple COVID vaccines are now rolling out across the U.S., with 28.6 percent of the total population having at least one dose, and 15.8 percent fully vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says common side effects can include swelling, muscle pain, fever and nausea, but are considered to be signs that your body is building protection and will typically go away within "a few days."

The CDC recommends people who have a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines—such as food and pets—should still be vaccinated with one of the three COVID vaccines, made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Stressing that the vaccines remain safe and effective, the CDC said on its website: "Millions of people in the United States have received COVID-19 vaccines, and these vaccines have undergone the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history."

COVID vaccine
A nurse fills up a syringe with the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination site at a senior center on March 29, 2021 in San Antonio, Texas. Sergio Flores/Getty Images