In very rare cases, some people have had severe allergic reactions after receiving the new COVID-19 vaccines, leading the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) to issue updated guidance for Americans with allergies.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given emergency use authorization to COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
The ACAAI's COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force offers guidance on the risk of an allergic reaction from the vaccines.
In general, reactions to vaccines are rare, and the incidence of severe allergic reaction ("anaphylaxis") is estimated at 1.31 per 1 million doses given to patients, according to the ACAAI.
The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines should be given in a setting where anaphylaxis can be treated. All patients must be monitored for 15 to 30 minutes after injection for any adverse reaction. All anaphylactic reactions should be managed immediately with epinephrine as the first-line treatment, the experts advised in a college news release.
The shots shouldn't be given to people with a known history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccines, the ACAAI said. The specific COVID-19 vaccine component causing anaphylaxis hasn't been identified, but an ingredient called polyethylene glycol has been known to cause anaphylaxis.
When deciding whether to receive either of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, the ACAAI recommended consulting your health care provider, who can advise you about the benefits and risks.
People with common allergies to medications, foods, inhalants, insects and latex don't have a higher risk of an allergic reaction to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines than people in the general public, the ACAAI said.
The mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are not live vaccines and can be given to people with weakened immune systems. Health care providers should advise these patients that they may have a weaker immune response to the vaccines.
If you have questions about the risk of an allergic reaction to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, contact an allergist/immunologist, the ACAAI advised.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that people who have a severe allergic reaction after the first shot should not get the second shot.
Patients who have a severe allergic reaction may be referred to an allergy/immunology specialist for further care or advice, according to the CDC.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 vaccines and severe allergic reactions.
SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, news release, Dec. 22, 2020