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Cutting through confusion about COVID-19 vaccines and allergic reactions

A local immunologist and allergist shared the facts about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines so people can make an educated choice about getting vaccinated.

SAN DIEGO — Health care professionals are concerned about the misperceptions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines, in particular, the likelihood of having an allergic reaction. Dr. Ron Simon, a Scripps Clinic immunologist and allergist, said it is rare.

"There were four allergic reactions per million doses of the Moderna vaccine. And then 10 allergic reactions per million doses of the Pfizer and again that is so far lower than any other allergy we know about, be it to Penicillin, be it to food, be it whatever," said Simon.

Recent reports about some getting allergic reactions in California after receiving the Moderna vaccine have caused some to feel uncertain or afraid about getting vaccinated when they have the opportunity.

Simon reviewed the reactions that were thought to be allergic at first. He said his findings indicate nerves were to blame.

"When you are worried, you get nervous and then you heart beats faster. Your throat dries up. Then it feels like its swelling. You get worked up and it is not their fault. They've had a really bad experience with something and their brain is really trying to protect them from having that experience again," said Simon.

And for those who question the short amount of time these COVID vaccines have been in a human body and what long term side effects the vaccines may have, he said there is no reason to be hesitant. He said no corners were cut in developing the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

"Because of Operation Warp Speed, they put it right at the top of the file, so as soon as the data came in, it got reviewed. Each time that happens, that's saving months of time sitting around of a pile of stuff for the FDA to do. So that's really what sped it along. Nothing else," said Simon.

Simon added some who have cosmetic fillers or get allergy shots may experience an inflammatory response in a localized area that is non life-threatening and rare.

"These later reactions especially, when they occur in the skin - it can be uncomfortable but we don't really worry about that," said Dr. Simon.

if you have concerns, talk to your primary care physician.


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