There has been a lot of confusion and misinformation about risks of anaphylaxis to the COVID -19 coronavirus vaccines available. Many healthy individuals are being declined the vaccine and told to be allergy tested if they have a history of food or medication allergy or any form of anaphylaxis.

The COVID-19 vaccines contain no food proteins or other medication so this should not be a contra-indication.

Acute anaphylaxis and severe allergic reactions to the vaccine constituents have only been reported in 1 in one million recipients.

The only individuals who should not have the COVID-19 vaccine are those with a history of anaphylaxis to a previous vaccine (such as Influenza) or to the first dose of current COVID-19 vaccine.

If you and your GP still have concerns, the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered in a medical facility with a test dose of 10% followed after 30 minutes observation with the other 90% dose. A further 30 minutes observation should be undertaken. As an additional precaution, one can also take an antihistamine tablet one hour before the vaccination.

Only those with a history of previous mRNA and Viral vector vaccine anaphylaxis (such as to a previous Influenza vaccine) need to be skin tested with the excipients in the vaccine such as PEG 2000 (Pfizer vaccine) and Polysorbate 80 (Astra Zeneca vaccine).  All others do not need allergy testing or special precautions taken when receiving the vaccine.

Initially in December 2020, the Department of Health had been very cautious and advised all those with any vaccine, food and medication allergies, not to have the COVID-19 vaccine. After a period of surveillance this advice was revised in May 2021 and now the only contraindication to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is a generalised acute allergic reaction within 2 hours of receiving a previous vaccination.

The non-uptake of the COVID-19 vaccination and  “vaccine hesitancy” has serious implication of infection and Long COVID side effects for those who don’t receive the vaccine. Other social impacts of not having been vaccinated are that  their employers may not allow them to return to their workplace,  plus their inability to travel abroad without a “vaccine passport” and they will not be able to socialise in restaurants and pubs where a vaccination certificate may be a prerequisite to enter the premises.


Anaphylaxis Campaign UK.

MHRA Green Book Department Health UK