Man Develops Severe Rash After COVID-19 Vaccine

severe rash post COVID-19 vaccine
Image of the rash on Terrell’s legs and back. Photos provided by Dr. FNU Nutan with VCU Health.

A 74-year-old man in Virginia developed a severe, painful rash over his entire body after receiving Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Four days after receiving the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, Richard Terrell developed a severe rash all over his body. The 74-year-old recalled that the rash covered his entire body and causes his legs and arms to swell. Soon his skin began to peel off. He described the rash as ‘stinging, burning, and itching’. Moreover, the rash was so severe that even a simple movement such as bending his arm would leave him in severe pain.

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

Richard Terrell

He consulted a dermatologist who told him to go to the emergency room. Dr. Fnu Nutan, dermatology Hospitalist at VCU Health, conducted several tests, including a COVID-19 test. However, all came back normal. A skin biopsy revealed it to be a drug reaction. Thus, confirming that Terrell suffered an adverse reaction due to the vaccine.

We ruled out all the viral infections, we ruled out COVID-19 itself, we made sure that his kidneys and liver was okay, and finally, we came to the conclusion that it was the vaccine that he had received that was the cause

Dr. Fnu Nutan, dermatology hospitalist at VCU Health

Glad to Get the Vaccine

According to Dr Nutan, if left untreated, the allergic reaction could have likely become fatal. The 74-year-old spent five days in the hospital recovering from his rash. He is now recovering at his home. Doctors believe he is the first person to develop a specific skin reaction to the single-dose vaccine. Doctors at VCU Health plan to submit Terrell’s case to a medical journal soon. They blamed the reaction on Terrell’s genetic makeup. Unlike the other approved vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine does not use an mRNA vector. Instead, it uses a weakened adenovirus as a viral vector.

Recently, several reports of people developing a rash after a COVID-19 vaccine have come forward. However, he stated that the risk of suffering an adverse reaction from a COVID-19 vaccine is extremely low. And should not deter people from getting the vaccine.

Despite his experience, Terrell is encouraging others to get vaccinated. In an interview with WRIC, he said he was glad to have gotten the vaccine and would not hesitate to get it.


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