Allergic reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are making headlines. And for some, these headlines trigger scary memories. People who have experienced a severe allergic reaction to a medication, environmental allergen, or stinging insect know how frightening it is. And those who receive allergy shots may have more questions about the vaccine, including their risk for anaphylaxis. Others wonder if a previous adverse reaction means they’re at a higher risk of another from the vaccine. Some of the answers to these questions are more involved. But in short, the answer is no. You are not at a higher risk.
COVID-19 Vaccine Allergic Reactions
Per the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the Pfizter-Biontech COVID-19 vaccine, there is a remote chance of having a severe reaction. In general, allergic reactions to vaccines are rare. In fact, the incidence of vaccine related anaphylaxis is estimated at 1.31 per 1 million doses.1 Furthermore, individuals with common allergies to medications, foods, inhalants, insects, and latex are no more likely to have an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine than the general public.3
Allergy Immunotherapy & the COVID-19 Vaccine
Allergy immunotherapy is not a vaccine and receiving it does not increase your risk for an adverse reaction. Therefore, allergy shots don’t need to be withheld before or after a COVID-19 vaccine. However, experts recommend that providers do not give allergy shots the same day you get the vaccine.3
Other Medical Conditions
Providing correct medical information before receiving the vaccine is important. This information will help your healthcare provider identify all potential risk factors and help you decide the safest path forward. Prior to getting the vaccine, tell your provider about your medical conditions, including previous reactions to vaccines. You should also disclose if you have a fever, allergies, a bleeding disorder, or are on a blood thinner.2 Lastly, tell them if you are immunocompromised, taking a medication that affects your immune system, pregnant or plan to become pregnant, breastfeeding, or if you have received another COVID-19 vaccine.2
Managing Adverse Reactions
Your vaccine provider is educated on the signs of a severe allergic reaction and should have epinephrine on-hand in case of an emergency. However, if you typically carry an epinephrine auto-injector, make sure to have it with you. A severe reaction usually occurs within 15-30 minutes of receiving a vaccine dose.3 As a result, your provider will ask that you stay for monitoring.
If you have specific questions about your personal health or the vaccine, contact your preferred local healthcare provider.
- McNeil MD, Michael M, et al. (2015). Risk of anaphylaxis after vaccination in children and adults. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 137(3): 868–878. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2015.07.048.
COVID-19 Pfizer BioNTech Vaccine EUA Fact Sheet for Recipients. (2020, December 15). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 4, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/eua/pfizer.html
Allergic Reactions Related to Covid-19 Vaccinations in Allergic Patients.(2020, December 28). American Academy Of Otolaryngic Allergy. Retrieved January 4, 2021, from https://aaoallergy.org/news-from-aaoa/allergic-reactions-related-to-covid-19-vaccinations-in-allergic-patients