Allergic Reactions and Covid Vaccines

George J. Ziogas
Marco Federmann/Pixabay

Do you have seasonal or other allergies? Many people do have allergies. A person can have an allergy to environmental sources like pollen or pet dander, or allergies to certain foods like dairy or wheat. While people are getting the Covid vaccine, scientists are studying the possibility of allergic reactions from the vaccine.

What is an Allergic Reaction?

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, an allergic reaction happens when the body is exposed to an otherwise harmless allergen. An allergen can be any substance that triggers the production of antibodies.

Antibodies are part of the immune system. Antibodies cause cells to produce chemicals to protect the body against a foreign substance. These chemicals can cause symptoms that affect the:

· Nose

· Throat

· Sinuses

· Lungs

· Ears

· Lining of the Stomach

· Skin

The first time someone is exposed to an allergen, they may not have symptoms. But repeated exposure can sensitize the immune system to produce an allergic reaction with later exposures.

Mild Versus Severe Allergic Reactions

Mild allergic reactions are common and are not severe or life-threatening. They may include:

· Rash

· Hives

· Runny Nose

· Itchy Eyes

· Nausea

· Stomach Cramps

Mild symptoms can be uncomfortable and annoying, especially with repeated or prolonged exposure.

Severe allergic reactions require emergency medical treatment. According to doctors at the Cleveland Clinics’ Allergy and Immunology Department, you should seek medical help immediately if you have a severe allergic reaction, including:

· Difficulty breathing

· Shortness of breath

· Chest pain

· Eye pain

· Loss of vision

· Throat wwelling

· Difficulty swallowing

· Persistent headache

· Vomiting

· Passing out

· Anaphylaxis

Medical treatment can relieve these symptoms. If you don't get medical treatment, severe symptoms can be deadly. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that causes a person to lose consciousness as the body goes into shock.

A person’s blood pressure drops, and their airways narrow during anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis usually occurs quickly and very shortly after exposure. The medication Epinephrine, or an Epi-Pen, is used to prevent death from anaphylaxis.

Covid Vaccines

According to a journal Clinical and Experimental Vaccine Research study, any vaccine can cause a mild allergic reaction. Vaccines may contain any number of potential allergens, including:

· Antibodies

· Conjugating agents

· Preservatives

· Stabilizers

· Antimicrobial agents

· Adjuvants

· Culture media

· Contamination

These ingredients are used to produce and manufacture vaccines. Contamination can occur with improper handling of the vaccine, storage, or use.

During the Covid vaccine clinical trials, researchers monitored participants for common vaccine allergic reactions. The Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson Covid vaccines did not show any evidence of severe allergic reactions requiring an ER visit or hospitalization.

Less than 0.1% of those who received the Moderna Covid vaccine reported severe allergic reactions after the first dose.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more people reported reactions of fever, chills, tiredness, and headache after the second dose of the Moderna vaccine.

Now that the Covid vaccines are in use with the general population, incidents of any reactions or other adverse events are reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). The CDC and FDA monitor VAERS. Anaphylaxis, the most severe form of an allergic reaction, has been reported in two to five out of every one million people who have received a Covid vaccine.

With that data, anaphylaxis is considered a rare reaction to the Covid vaccines. However, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is now conducting a clinical trial to determine why some people have an anaphylactic response. Scientists believe that people who have an anaphylactic reaction may be highly sensitive to allergens or have a mast cell disorder. A mast cell disorder is caused by abnormal white blood cells and may mimic life-threatening reactions that appear to be allergic reactions.

The researchers plan to study the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in 3,400 participants. Researchers hope to determine if severe allergies or mast cell disease cause the reaction of those who have anaphylactic reactions and if so, they will look for a genetic cause. This clinical trial will help determine the safety of vaccinating people with a history of severe allergic reactions or mast cell disease.

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