January 18, 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that at least 21 people have had an anaphylactic-type reaction after receipt of the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. All of the patients have recovered.  Most of those reactions were associated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, mainly because it rolled out a week ahead of the Moderna vaccine, so more doses have been given.

As allergists, we know there is a rare risk of anaphylaxis to vaccines. The report included data from 1.9 million people who got the shot in the first week and a half it was available last month, from Dec. 14 to Dec. 23– the rate of anaphylaxis at 11.1 cases per million doses given.

The CDC has issued clear safety recommendations regarding receiving the vaccine for those with a history of allergic reactions. The Center presented this algorithm to assist with decision making regarding who can safely receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Individuals with common allergies to medications, foods, inhalants, insects and latex are no more likely than the general public to have an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine.  Those with a history of severe allergic reaction (e.g. anaphylaxis) to an injectable medication should use caution when receiving the vaccine and follow a 30-minute observation period if vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Anyone with a history of immediate allergic reaction of any severity to any component of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines or to polyethylene glycol or polysorbate should not be vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are so far the only two vaccines available for use in the United States.

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) released guidance for the next phase of COVID-19 vaccination. This graphic shows the groups and the timeline of those who can get vaccinated.  We are currently in Phase 1b-Tier 1 of Vaccine Distribution.  The vaccine is available to anyone over age 65, and all people over 50 who also live in a multigenerational household as defined as:

  • People who are 50 and older AND are not able to live independently, who either:
    • Are receiving long-term care from a paid or unpaid caregiver, or
    • Are living with someone who works outside the home
  • People who are 50 and older AND are living with and caring for a grandchild, niece or nephew

This is in addition to populations eligible during phase 1A including health care workers at high risk for COVID-19 infection, first responders, people who live or work in long-term care facilities, and all other workers in health settings who are at risk of COVID-19.

The WA DOH launched an online questionnaire tool called PhaseFinder.   People can use the tool to find out where and when they can be vaccinated. The questionnaire will be on the honor system.

Click here to learn more about from WA DOH showing videos about the vaccines and list of frequently asked questions.

Please set up a visit with your allergist for further discussion and concerns.