“The vast majority of people with a history of allergies can receive this vaccine safely,” says Dr. Jordan Scott Orange, an allergist-immunologist who is physician-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. People who have severe allergies not related to vaccines or injectable medicines — such as nuts and other foods, pets, bee stings, latex, or oral medications — can get the vaccine.
The CDC recommends that people who have had a severe allergic reaction, specifically anaphylaxis, or an “immediate allergic reaction” (such as hives, swelling or wheezing within four hours) to an ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine should not get it. People who are allergic to polyethylene glycol (PEG), which is in the vaccine, or polysorbate, which isn’t in the vaccine but is closely related to PEG, shouldn’t get the vaccine. Check with an allergist if you are unsure. Also, anyone who has a severe or immediate allergic reaction to the first COVID shot should not get a second dose, the CDC recommends.
Consult with an allergist beforehand if you’ve had an allergic reaction to another vaccine or to injectable medicine, says Dr. Orange, who is also chair of pediatrics at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.