Editor’s note: This article was published on March 24, 2021. COVID-19 information and recommendations are subject to change. For the most up-to-date information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website or view our most recent COVID-19 blog posts.
When the COVID-19 vaccines first came out, there was a lot of concern about allergic reactions. More information is now available as scientists have been able to research the topic.
Research has shown that immediate, severe allergic reactions are very rare when getting any of the COVID-19 vaccines. In fact, there is less than a 12 in 1 million chance. According to NASA, you are more likely to get hit by a meteorite.
“Even with the research about severe allergic reactions, many are still concerned about allergies with the vaccines,” said Dr. Edward Belongia, an epidemiologist with Marshfield Clinic Research Institute.
Below are some key takeaways about the COVID-19 vaccines and allergies.
Allergies that stop you from getting the COVID-19 vaccine
You should not get the COVID-19 vaccine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you are concerned about being allergic to a specific ingredient in the vaccine, you should talk to your doctor. Specific ingredients can be found at the below links:
- Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (page 2)
- Moderna vaccine (page 2)
- Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine (page 2)
Allergies and when you can get the COVID-19 vaccine
If you have had an allergic reaction to another vaccine or an injectable medicine, you should talk to your doctor. They can help discuss your past allergy history with other vaccines or injectable medicines to determine if you should be concerned about receiving the COVID-19 vaccines.
You are able to get the COVID-19 vaccine if you have had an allergic reaction that is not related to vaccines or injectable medicines. This includes allergies to eggs, gelatin, food, pets, venom, environmental allergies or oral medicines.
“If someone has an allergy, in most cases they should not let it stop them from getting the COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr. Belongia said. “Their doctor is a great resource to ask questions. They can also ask the person administering the vaccine if their allergies are concerning.”
What an allergic reaction looks like
In the rare case that you have an allergic reaction after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, you can expect hives, swelling, difficulty breathing or a rash.
Immediate, severe allergic reactions that go beyond these symptoms are very rare when getting any of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Teams are ready for allergic reactions
Locations providing the vaccine are ready for an allergic reaction. This includes proper personnel, medication and equipment on site. All of this is ready to be placed into action at any moment.
Those that have a history of severe allergic reactions will also be monitored for 30 minutes after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine for their safety. Everyone will be monitored for 15 minutes to ensure they do not have an allergic reaction.
CDC is monitoring for allergies
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is monitoring severe allergic reactions through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). This system allows the CDC to track if any of the vaccines cause immediate or serious allergic reactions.
VAERS is one of many reporting systems that tracks the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines. Dr. Belongia and his team conduct this type of research on many different types of vaccines every year.
For more information about allergies and the COVID-19 vaccine, talk to your doctor or go to this resource from the CDC.