Long-term care residents will be among the first people in the nation to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. On Tuesday, Food and Drug Administration staff recommended that they be checked for possible cases of Bell’s palsy.
Federal officials added that the condition is not necessarily a side effect. But four cases each were found among Moderna’s and Pfizer’s trial participants.
FDA staff noted there wasn’t enough data to link the cases directly to the shots, but added close monitoring is warranted.
Bell’s palsy causes face muscles to temporarily weaken. The condition typically occurs when the nerve controlling facial muscles gets inflamed, swollen, or compressed. Cases are usually treated with a seven-day course of oral acyclovir (Zovirax) or valacyclovir (Valtrex), as well as a tapering course of oral prednisone.
Paul Offit, M.D., a voting member of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, said the condition merits monitoring as vaccines are administered.