The COVID Vaccine

Allergic reactions have rarely been reported to both the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines against COVID. Reactions are extremely RARE and have occurred in 11 out of 1 million doses thus far. The greatest risk appears to be people who have previously reacted to injectable medications/vaccines and those with reactions to PEG/polysorbates, though knowledge is evolving and data is still being collected. People with common allergies to medications, foods, inhalants, insect venom, and latex are no more likely than the general public to have an allergic reaction to the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.


Before you get your COVID-19 Vaccine:

  • Do you have a history of a severe allergic reaction to an injectable medication (intravenous, intramuscular, or subcutaneous)?
  • Do you have a history of a severe allergic reaction to a prior vaccine?
  • Do you have a history of a severe allergic reaction to polyethylene glycol (PEG), a polysorbate or polyoxyl 35 castor oil (e.g. paclitaxel) containing injectable or vaccine?

If the answer to any of these is “Yes”, please call to make an appointment with your allergist prior to getting your vaccine.

On the day of the vaccine:

  • Bring your epi-pen if you have a history of anaphylaxis and have an epi-pen.
  • Plan to wait 30 minutes after your shot.
  • If a suspected reaction occurs, please seek treatment and make an appointment for a follow up with your allergist.


COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine FAQs

1. “Is there testing available to see if I am allergic to the vaccine before I get it?”

        – No, at this point testing is not available to vaccine components and is not currently recommended. That may change. The ACAAI does not endorse any testing protocol for PEG, polysorbate, or the mRNA COVID vaccines at this time because we don’t yet know the safety and predictive values of these tests.

2. “Should I pre-medicate with an antihistamine prior to my injection?”

        -At this point, there is no official recommendation for premedication, however, do take your daily medications as prescribed.

3. “If I had a reaction to the first dose, should I skip the second dose?”

        -Please make an appointment with your allergist to discuss.

4. “Can I get COVID from the mRNA vaccine?”

       -NO. The mRNA vaccines are not live vaccines and there is no way of getting COVID “from” the vaccine.

5. “What are the side effects?”

       -Common side effects range from headache, tenderness at the shot site, limited fevers, muscle aches, and mild flu-like symptoms for 1-2 days after your shot. They are mild, tolerable, and indicate a reaction to the vaccine.

6. “Can I go without a mask and gather indoors once I am vaccinated?”

      -NO. You can still be an asymptomatic carrier and infect others even after vaccinated. Please continue to mask and distance as per CDC recommendations.

7. “How long until I am immune?”

      -Studies demonstrated partial immunity 10 days following the 1st dose and more robust immunity 2 weeks following the second dose of the vaccine.

8. “Are you all vaccinated?

      -YES! The doctors and staff at South Bay Allergy are believers in science and received our vaccines as soon as they were available in December and January. Please ask us about our experiences, we would be happy to share our thoughts!


COVID Vaccination priority list:

Per Santa Clara County, the following groups may be vaccinated.
Please note that patients with allergies, asthma (not on oxygen), and immune deficiencies are NOT included at the current time. South Bay Allergy doctors and staff are currently unable to provide documentation for vaccine prioritization. Please refer to county guidelines or contact your primary care physician with any questions about your eligibility for the vaccine. We hope that all of our patients are able to receive the COVID vaccine as soon as possible!


Vaccine Prioritization (as vaccine supply allows)

  1. Currently vaccines may be distributed to populations identified in Phase 1A and Phase 1B, Tier 1.
  2. Beginning March 15, healthcare providers may use their clinical judgement to vaccinate individuals age 16-64 who are deemed to be at the very highest risk for morbidity and mortality from COVID-19 as a direct result of one or more of the following severe health conditions, and individuals in specified settings are eligible to be vaccinated due to increased risk, as specified in this provider bulletin:
    • Cancer, current with debilitated or immunocompromised state
    • Chronic kidney disease, stage 4 or above
    • Chronic pulmonary disease, oxygen dependent
    • Down syndrome
    • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
    • Pregnancy
    • Sickle cell disease
    • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies (excludes hypertension)
    • Severe obesity (Body Mass Index ≥ 40 kg/m2)
    • Type 2 diabetes mellitus with hemoglobin A1c level greater than 7.5%
    • Individuals with developmental or other severe disabilities or illness
    • Individuals who live or work in a high risk congregate residential setting
    • Public transit workers