COVID Vaccination Can Be Safe Even in People With Severe Allergies

TUESDAY, Oct. 26, 2021 (HealthDayNews) — If you suffer from severe allergies and worry about the side effects of COVID-19 vaccines, you can relax: A new study shows that even when people report a history of severe allergic reactions to medications, vaccines or allergens, nearly all of them can be fully vaccinated.

The research involved close to 53,000 employees with the Mass General Brigham health care system. Of the 474 (0.9%) with a history of severe allergic reactions, 11.6% had allergic reactions after receiving the first or second dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, compared with 4.7% of those without a history of severe allergic reactions.

Both the Pfizer and Moderna shots are two-dose mRNA vaccines.

A high-risk allergy history was associated with a 2.5-times increased risk of allergic reactions, with the highest risks for hives and swelling. However, despite these symptoms, 97.6% of the employees in the study received two doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

The findings were published Oct. 26 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

“The results of this study can help guide expectations for patients with high-risk allergy histories. Symptoms such as hives and swelling may occur, particularly with the first vaccine dose, but most reported allergic symptoms did not impede completion of the two-dose mRNA vaccine series,” study author Dr. Lily Li said in a Mass General Brigham news release. She’s from the allergy faculty in the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“We hope these data will help inform ongoing conversations with patients who are hesitant to receive COVID-19 vaccination due to allergy concerns,” said study senior author Dr. Kimberly Blumenthal, co-director of the clinical epidemiology program in the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“At our institutions, nearly all individuals with and without a history of high-risk allergy were able to complete the two-dose vaccine series,” Blumenthal said in the release.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 vaccines.

SOURCE: Mass General Brigham, news release, Oct. 26, 2021