By now you know that side effects come with the territory when you’re getting the COVID vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most of these reactions to the COVID vaccine are normal signs that your body is building immunity against the virus. But, though it’s rare, you could also experience an allergic reaction to the vaccine, which is not something you should ignore. The CDC says there are several symptoms that could mean you are having some type of allergic reaction to the vaccine.
Javeed Siddiqui, MD, the chief medical officer at TeleMed2U, says patients with vaccine-related reactions should try to determine if the “symptoms and timing of their reaction [is] consistent with a true allergic reaction.” Of course, you should consult your doctor if you’re insure. But in order to prepare, keep reading for some of the signs you’re having an allergic reaction to the COVID vaccine, according to the CDC. And for more vaccine news, beware that If You’re Over 65, You Shouldn’t Get This New Vaccine, Experts Warn.
According to the CDC, there are two different types of allergic reactions you could have to the COVID vaccine: severe and non-severe. In the case of the latter, symptoms such as hives, swelling, and wheezing can arise up to four hours after getting vaccinated. However, swelling at the injection site is also a normal side effect of the vaccine, so you may not be experiencing an allergic reaction if you don’t also have hives and aren’t wheezing.
Spencer Kroll, MD, an internal medicine specialist with The Kroll Medical Group, says that if your symptoms are lessened after using antihistamines, you most likely are experiencing an allergic reaction to the vaccine. And for more on vaccine reactions, You’re More Likely to Have Vaccine Side Effects If You’ve Done This.
The CDC says that severe, life-threatening allergic reactions, also known as anaphylaxis, to the COVID vaccine are rare but possible. According to the CDC, anaphylaxis can target four systems of your body: respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and mucosal (skin). Respiratory symptoms of a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine could include the sensation of your throat closing, a high-pitched sound while breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing.
Anaphylaxis can also present with gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Unfortunately, these could be a sign your situation has taken a turn for the worse. According to healthcare services site Ada, “As anaphylaxis rapidly progresses to its more severe form, anaphylactic shock, other symptoms may include … stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.” And for more up-to-date COVID news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
In terms of cardiovascular symptoms that appear in patients with anaphylaxis, you may experience dizziness, fainting, abnormally fast heart rate, and abnormally low blood pressure.
On your skin, anaphylaxis could look like hives, itching, and swelling of your lips, face, and throat. And for more nerve-racking reactions, this is The Rare COVID Vaccine Side Effect Doctors Want You to Prepare For.
A non-severe allergic reaction could take up to four hours to occur. But if you do have a more immediate severe allergic reaction to the COVID vaccine, the CDC says your symptoms will usually arise within 15 minutes after your shot.
Unfortunately, early symptoms of anaphylaxis can appear as a non-severe allergic reaction, making it “often difficult to predict whether initial, mild symptoms will progress to become an anaphylactic reaction,” the CDC notes. This is why the agency recommends that anyone with a history of immediate allergic reactions to prior vaccines or injectable therapy or anyone with a history of anaphylaxis due to any cause get monitored for 30 minutes after their vaccination—longer than the recommended 15 minutes for everyone else.
Non-severe allergic reactions should still be taken as seriously as severe allergic reactions, the CDC says. Currently, both vaccines available in the U.S. are administered in two doses, but an allergic reaction to the first dose may indicate that a worse reaction could occur if a second dose is administered. If you experience either type of allergic reaction after getting the first dose of the vaccine, “you should not get the second dose,” the CDC warns. And for more from the leading health agency, Dr. Fauci Says the CDC May Make This Major Mask Change Soon.