We know many people with allergies are unsure if they should get the COVID-19 vaccine and what to expect. Below are answers to commonly asked questions about allergies and COVID vaccines, including allergic reactions, vaccine safety, side effects, and more.

Where/when can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Right now, vaccinations are happening based on where you live (by your county and state). Please visit our COVID-19 vaccine website for the latest updates on vaccine distribution at Penn Medicine. 

We encourage you to get vaccinated at any location you can, even if it is not Penn Medicine. Make sure to check out your state and county websites to pre-register and find vaccination sites in your area.

I feel my diagnosis should be fast tracked for the vaccine. Can you help speed up the process?

Currently, we are contacting patients directly who meet the eligibility requirements as more vaccine supply becomes available. Penn Allergy and Immunology cannot help you get the vaccine faster. If you require a copy of your medical records to support your diagnosis, please contact us.

If you are interested in getting the vaccine at Penn Medicine, please fill out our vaccine interest form.

Will you be giving the vaccine in your office? Can I get it under observation in your office?

The Penn Allergy Clinic is not currently administering the vaccine, and we do not have a supply of the vaccine.

Can someone come to my home to give the COVID vaccine?

No, the vaccine cannot be given in the home.

Is the vaccine safe for me with immunodeficiency, mast cell disorder, asthma, or autoimmune disease?

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and recommended if you have these conditions. The vaccine is not a live virus and can be received by patients with immunodeficiency.

Can I take the COVID-19 vaccine if I have severe allergies?

mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may be given to people with underlying medical conditions provided they have not had a severe or immediate allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

We know that the great majority of people, even those with severe allergies, have tolerated the COVID-19 vaccine. People with an allergy to environmental allergens (such as pollen), food, latex, oral medications, or stinging insects can receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Before vaccination at a Penn vaccination site, you will be asked some questions about your allergy history. If you have had anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) due to any cause, the vaccination team will decide if you need longer monitoring (30 minutes instead of 15 minutes), or if you need to see your primary care provider or an allergy doctor before vaccination. Additional questions may be asked if you have a history of an allergic reaction to a vaccine or other injectable medications.

Although uncommon, persons who have received dermal fillers might experience swelling at or near the site of filler injection(usually face or lips) after receiving the COVID vaccine. Reaction is typically temporary and can resolve with medical therapy including steroids, however, these persons should contact their healthcare provider if swelling occurs.

Will I respond to the COVID vaccine with an immunodeficiency? How will I know if my body responded to the vaccine?

Even patients with immune deficiency should get the COVID-19 vaccine. Most people will still respond, even if it is partially. Currently, it is not recommended to test for vaccine response in people who get vaccinated. We do not yet know the necessary level of antibodies for protection against COVID-19.

How soon after getting the COVID-19 vaccine can I get other injections or vaccines?

Patients who receive allergy shots (immunotherapy), biologic injections such as omalizumab (Xolair®), mepolizumab (Nucala®), benralizumab (Fasenra®), dupilumab (Dupixent®) or immunoglobulin infusions (IVIG) should allow at least 1 week between their COVID-19 vaccine and their other therapy.

You need 2 weeks between COVID vaccination and any other vaccine.

If you require a PPD to test for TB, you may get the test before or at the same time as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine. Otherwise, delay PPD testing for 4 weeks after the vaccine.

I got the COVID vaccine and had an allergic reaction within 4 hours - what should I do?

If you received either the first or second dose of the vaccine at a Penn facility and you believe you had a reaction within 4 hours of being vaccinated, you should call Penn Medicine OnDemand (215-615-2222). They will first obtain information about your reaction and help you manage your symptoms.

If you are in between your first and second dose, Penn Medicine OnDemand will help decide if you need to be referred to Allergy and Immunology (A/I) prior to the second vaccine dose. Penn Medicine OnDemand has a close collaboration with A/I. If it is determined that you need to see A/I, and you require a second vaccination soon, the A/I team will try to schedule you prior to your second vaccine.

I got the COVID vaccine and had an allergic reaction after 4 hours - what should I do?

If you received either the first or second dose of the vaccine at a Penn facility and you believe you had a reaction after 4 hours of being vaccinated, you can call your primary care provider or Penn Medicine OnDemand (215-615-2222). If you have severe symptoms such as swelling, difficulty breathing, throat symptoms and dizziness, please seek emergency care.

Can I get a second COVID vaccine dose if I had a delayed, local injection-site reaction after the first dose?

According to the CDC, delayed, local injection-site reactions after the first mRNA vaccine dose reactions do not indicate that you should not receive the second dose.

I need a sooner appointment to be evaluated to see if the vaccine is safe for me.

Most patients can safely receive the vaccine. This includes patients with immune deficiency, mast cell disorders, patients with common allergies, asthmatics, and patients with autoimmune conditions.

We know that the great majority of people, even those with severe allergies, have tolerated the COVID-19 vaccine. People with an allergy to environmental allergens (such as pollen), food, latex, oral medications or stinging insects can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Please see question 6 above for further discussion.

Can I stop wearing a mask after I get vaccinated?

Not yet. Until experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, people who decide to get vaccinated should continue to follow all current guidance by the CDC to protect themselves against COVID-19 after they are vaccinated. That means:

  • Wearing a mask
  • Staying at least six feet away from others
  • Avoiding crowds
  • Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Following the latest CDC travel guidelines
  • Following any applicable workplace guidance
  • Follow applicable hospital guidelines for quarantine after COVID-19 exposure
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