Health experts shed light on COVID-19 vaccines and allergic reactions

Vaccine vial
Posted at 6:30 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 15:02:49-05

TAMPA, Fla.—If you suffer from allergies or have had an allergic reaction, you know it’s no laughing matter. Health experts in the Tampa Bay area are helping break down the science behind the COVID-19 vaccines and what we know about potential allergic reactions.

“Allergic reactions are uncommon to these new vaccines,” said Dr. John Sinnott, the Chairman of Internal Medicine at the University of South Florida.

While uncommon, the CDC notes there have been rare cases of anaphylaxis reported. The CDC says an allergic reaction is considered severe when you need to be treated with an EpiPen or go to the hospital.

The CDC says if you have had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you shouldn’t get either of the currently available mRNA COVID vaccines.

“People who have allergies to polyethylene glycol (PEG) or polysorbate, which are both stabilizing agents, they need to check with their doctor,” said Sinnott. “They would probably not get it.”

The CDC notes polysorbate is not an ingredient in either mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, but it is closely related to PEG, which is in the vaccines.

You should also take note if you’ve had an immediate allergic reaction to any ingredient in an mRNA COVID vaccine, which means a reaction within four hours of getting vaccinated, including symptoms like hives, swelling, or wheezing.

Even if that reaction wasn’t severe, the CDC recommends not getting either of the current mRNA COVID vaccines. If you have had an immediate reaction to a vaccine for another disease, check with your doctor first on getting the COVID vaccine.

“Anyone that had a severe reaction to the first vaccine, should not get a second shot,” said Dr. Sinnott.

The CDC does recommend people with a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines, like food, pet, venom, environmental, or latex allergies, should get vaccinated.