What to Do if You Have an Allergic Reaction After Getting A COVID-19 Vaccine

What to Do if You Have an Allergic Reaction After Getting A COVID-19 Vaccine

If you get a COVID-19 vaccine and you think you might be having a severe allergic reaction after leaving the vaccination provider site, seek immediate medical care by calling 911.

If you have a severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine

If you had a severe allergic reaction after getting the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, CDC recommends that you should not get the second dose. CDC has learned of reports that some people have experienced severe allergic reactions—also known as anaphylaxis—after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. As an example, an allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine or EpiPen© or if they must go to the hospital. Learn about common side effects of COVID-19 vaccines and when to call a doctor.

If you have a non-severe allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine

If you had an immediate allergic reaction after getting the first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, you should not get the second dose, even if your allergic reaction was not severe enough to require emergency care. An immediate allergic reaction happens within 4 hours of getting vaccinated. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist in allergies and immunology to provide more care or advice. CDC has also learned of reports that some people have experienced non-severe allergic reactions within 4 hours after getting vaccinated (known as immediate allergic reactions), such as hives, swelling, and wheezing (respiratory distress).

If you get a rash where you got the shot

CDC has learned of reports that some people have experienced a red, itchy, swollen, or painful rash where they got the shot. These rashes can start a few days to more than a week after the first dose and are sometimes quite large.  These rashes are also known as “COVID arm.” If you experience “COVID arm” after getting the first shot, you should still get the second shot at the recommended interval. Tell your vaccine provider that you experienced COVID arm after the first shot. Your vaccine provider may recommend that you get the second shot in the opposite arm.

If the rash is itchy, you can take an antihistamine. If it is painful, you can take a painkiller like acetaminophen or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

CDC does not currently know whether people who experience “COVID arm” after the first dose will have a similar reaction after the second dose. However, currently available evidence suggests that having this type of reaction after the first dose does not increase your risk of having a severe allergic reaction after the second dose.

Safeguards Are in Place

CDC has provided recommendations for COVID-19 vaccination providers about how to prepare for the possibility of a severe allergic reaction:

  • All people who get a COVID-19 vaccine should be monitored on site. People who have had severe allergic reactions or who have had any type of immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine or injectable therapy should be monitored for at least 30 minutes after getting the vaccine. All other people should be monitored for at least 15 minutes after getting the vaccine.
  • Vaccination providers should have appropriate personnel, medications, and equipment—such as epinephrine, antihistamines, blood pressure monitor, and timing devices to check your pulse—at all COVID-19 vaccination provider sites.
  • If you experience a severe allergic reaction after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, vaccination providers can provide rapid care and call for emergency medical services. You should continue to be monitored in a medical facility for at least several hours.

Learn more about what to expect after getting vaccinated for COVID-19, including normal side effects and tips to reduce pain or discomfort.

CDC Is Monitoring Reports of Severe Allergic Reactions

If someone has a severe allergic reaction after getting vaccinated, their vaccination provider will send a report to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).external icon VAERS is a national system that collects reports from healthcare professionals, vaccine manufacturers, and the public about adverse events that happen after vaccination. Reports of adverse events that are unexpected, appear to happen more often than expected, or have unusual patterns are followed up with specific studies.

Learn more about how federal partners are monitoring the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in the United States.