What to Do if You Had an Allergic Reaction after Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine
Severe allergic reactions to vaccines are rare but can happen. 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 Had a Severe Allergic Reaction to a COVID-19 Vaccine
Anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction (for example, anaphylaxis) after receiving a particular type of COVID-19 vaccine should not get another dose of that type of vaccine. The vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are considered one type (mRNA) of COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson/Janssen is considered another type (viral vector).
A severe allergic reaction can cause a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat, or a generalized rash or hives. A person with a severe allergic reaction needs to be treated with epinephrine (often given as an EpiPen®) and should seek immediate medical attention.
Learn about common side effects of COVID-19 vaccines and when to call a doctor.
If You Had a Non-severe Allergic Reaction to a COVID-19 Vaccine
If you had an allergic reaction that started within 4 hours of getting vaccinated (this is called “immediate onset”) but the reaction was not considered severe by a medical professional, you likely can receive a subsequent dose of the same vaccine under certain conditions. Your doctor may refer you to an allergy and immunology specialist for additional care or advice.
If You Had a Rash where You Got a COVID-19 Shot
If you had a red, itchy, swollen, or painful rash where you got a COVID-19 shot, you should still get another shot at the recommended interval if a second, additional, or booster shot is recommended. These rashes can start a few days to more than a week after the first shot and are sometimes quite large. These rashes are also known as “COVID arm.” Tell your vaccination provider that you experienced a rash or “COVID arm” after the first shot. Your vaccination 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 pain medication like acetaminophen or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).
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 should be monitored for 30 minutes include:
- People who had a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis due to any cause
- People who had any type of immediate onset (within 4 hours) allergic reaction to a non-COVID-19 vaccine or injectable therapy
- People who had a severe allergic reaction to one type of COVID-19 vaccine—for example, a severe allergic reaction to the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and are now receiving the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine—should be observed for 30 minutes following the vaccination. This vaccination should only be done in a health clinic, medical facility or doctor’s office.
- People who have had an immediate onset (within 4 hours) allergic reaction that was not severe from a previous dose of that type of COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccination should only be done in a health clinic, medical facility or doctor’s office .
- 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 care rapidly 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.
- Allergic Reactions Including Anaphylaxis After Receipt of the First Dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine — United States, December 14–23, 2020
- Allergic Reactions Including Anaphylaxis After Receipt of the First Dose of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine — United States, December 21, 2020–January 10, 2021