• Linda Von Zeuner

The Covid- 19 vaccine and allergic reations



Excitement is hanging in the air as the first health care workers are sharing their #igottheshot selfies as the Johnson and Johnson vaccines arrived in the country.

As always (as with any vaccine), and especially with a brand new one, there are fears and questions arising, about the safety, efficacy, side effects and the list goes on and on.


I am no vaccine expert, especially not the Covid vaccine but I do enjoy reading my fair share and I received an article from The Allergy Foundation of South Africa which sums up The Covid 19 vaccine and allergic reactions beautifully.


Before we start, I just want to summarise the technologies that have been used to create these vaccines:


*mRNA vaccines (Moderna and Pfizer)

*Viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca, Johnson& Johnson, Sputnik, Sinovac)

*Protein subunit (Novavax)


(South Africa is currently rolling out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to health care workers)



COVID VACCINE RELATED ALLERGIC REACTIONS



As the mRNA vaccines have been rolled out there has unfortunately been cases of allergic reactions following the dose. An allergic reactions is usuallt due to either a specific way a vaccine is manufactured or to a component of the vaccine. Unlike some other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine does NOT contain food related components such as egg or gelatin. The current thinking is that the cause of allergic reactions towards the Pfizer vaccine is due to a Polyethylene glycol (PEG) 2000 allergy.



AM I AT RISK OF A SEVERE ALLERGIC REACTION TO THE COVID VACCINE?


Individuals with allergies and even a previous reaction towards a vaccine may of course feel worried, but it is important to emphasise that the benefits to the individual and the public far outweighs the risk. We need to work together to get our population vaccinated as soon as possible, but the following recommendations has been made by the Allergy foundation:


THESE PATIENTS CAN BE ROUTINELY VACCINATED (no additional testing or precautions need to be followed:)


  1. Food allergies (nuts, shellfish, egg, milk)

  2. Environmental allergy (house dust mite, pollen, animal danders)

  3. Severe reactions to bee or wasp stings

  4. Allergies to penicillins or other antibiotics

  5. Patients receiving allergen immunotherapy

  6. Patients that had urticaria (rash) several days after a different vaccines, that were treated only with antihistamines


These individuals can receive the vaccines in a standard setting with a 30 minute observation period.


WHO NEED ASSESSMENT BEFORE HAVING THE VACCINE?


Individuals who had a prior ANAPHYLAXIS to a vaccine (that means a severe allergic reaction characterised by a skin rash, drop in blood pressure and swelling of the airways), or individuals with RECURRENT anaphylaxis to medications should be referred to an allergologist for risk assessment and specific testing to determine the offending ingredient and advise about the safety of a specific COVID-19 vaccine.


WHO SHOULD NOT RECEIVE THE COVID-19 VACCINE?


The only reason not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is a KNOWN ALLERGY to any of the vaccine ingredients e.g. PEG 2000 or if someone had a prior allergic reaction to another COVID-19 vaccine. These individuals should be seen by an allergologist.




Sources:

AFSA information on Anaphylaxis to COVID-19 vaccines



Disclaimer:


For any questions regarding allergies and the COVID-19 vaccine I suggest to talk to your own doctor or contact AFSA. This is not my own research or advice, but merely those from a trusted body that I forwarded.


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