Can I get an allergic reaction from the vaccine?

Yes allergic reactions happen with the COVID vaccine, but they are EXTREMELY rare. When we talk about allergic reactions, we are referring to life threatening allergic reactions called anaphylaxis that require a hospitalization. We are not talking about seasonal or mild allergies such as a runny nose or itchy eyes caused by pollen, pet dander, or mold. 

What is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a life threatening allergic reaction that can occur after contact to peanuts, shellfish, latex, and rarely after vaccinations. The reaction typically happens within minutes to hours. Anaphylaxis causes your immune system to release a flood of chemicals that can cause you to go into shock — your blood pressure drops suddenly and your airways narrow, blocking breathing. Signs and symptoms include a rapid, weak pulse; a skin rash; and nausea and vomiting. People who are in danger of an anaphylactic reaction often carry EpiPens as a life-saving intervention. 

How common is Anaphylaxis after COVID vaccination?

As of January, the CDC reported 10 confirmed cases of anaphylaxis after getting the Moderna vaccine, and there were 21 confirmed cases of anaphylaxis after getting the Pfizer vaccine, with no deaths reported. That works out to a rate of 2.1 cases per million doses of the Moderna vaccine and 11.1 cases per million doses of the Pfizer, according to the CDC. These are approximately the same odds as being dealt a royal flush, the highest-winning hand in poker, in your first round of cards (1 in 649,740). There are more than 2.5 million possible five-card combinations, and just 4 of them will yield a winning royal flush. 

Who should worry about allergies to the COVID vaccine? 

If you have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get either of the currently available mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.  If you had a severe allergic reaction after getting the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, CDC recommends that you should not get the second dose. 

Still have questions? Always talk to your doctor. 

 

Last update: January 28, 2021, 7:31 pm ET
Science review: ERS