Vaccine Allergy

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Reports of adverse vaccine reactions are increasing in the U.S. While allergic reactions caused by the vaccine itself or the vaccine components are rare, they can be serious and even fatal. Much like other allergies, the primary vaccine allergens are proteins. The proteins most often implicated in vaccine allergies are egg and gelatin and sometimes yeast or latex. In regards to COVID vaccine reactions, there is a lot of concern that polyethylene glycol (PEG) is involved in some of these allergic reactions. Reactions have been known to be associated with both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

There can be adverse effects or local reactions which are seen with a lot of vaccines. Very small amounts of proteins may cause a reaction in individuals. That’s why it’s important to discuss your allergies with an allergist before receiving any vaccines.

Vaccine Allergy Symptoms

• Difficulty breathing

• Swelling of the face 

• A fast heartbeat

• Rash near the injection site

• Dizziness and weakness

• In rare cases, anaphylaxis

Symptoms of a vaccine allergy can range from mild to severe. However, vaccine allergy symptoms should not be confused with side effects. The most commonly reported side effects of vaccines are pain at the injection site, tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, joint pain, and fever. These effects may appear immediately after the injection or after a few hours. A real allergic reaction to vaccines would usually occur within a few minutes to one hour after the injection. 

Vaccine Allergy Diagnosis

The best way to diagnose a vaccine allergy is to test for the main proteins in the vaccine. For example, egg allergy might be a concern with yellow fever, measles/mumps/rubella, varicella or live zoster vaccine. So, you should get tested for an egg allergy at an allergy center like NY Allergy & Sinus Centers. 

We offer a variety of allergy testing methods such as skin prick, intradermal, blood, and patch testing. Our allergists have decades of experience in diagnosing allergies during your first visit. If you have questions about the COVID vaccine, be sure to read our blog, Speaking to an Allergist About COVID Vaccine Allergic Reactions, for more information on COVID vaccine reactions. 

Vaccine Allergy Treatment

If you’re allergic to certain vaccines, the best treatment is avoidance. There may be other alternatives to keep you safe. You may also be able to take anti-allergy medications before getting a vaccine. Discuss your options with a physician. 

You should always wait a few minutes in your doctor’s office after getting a vaccine to watch for any allergic reactions. If a reaction occurs, a doctor can administer epinephrine or provide other allergy medications for relief.