What is an allergic reaction to a vaccine?
Allergic reactions happen when the body’s immune system mistakenly overreacts to a substance.
Common substances that may cause allergic reactions include food, pollen, mold spores, dust mites, and pet dander. These are called allergens. In rare cases, the allergen can be a vaccine.
Allergic reactions to a vaccine can be mild or life-threatening. Symptoms of mild allergic reactions may include:
- Bowel problems. This can include issues like diarrhea or blood in the stool.
- Hives (urticaria). These are raised, itchy red or skin-colored bumps that turn white when pressed.
- Localized symptoms. Redness and swelling can occur as a reaction at the injection site.
- Low blood pressure (hypotension). This can result in dizziness, blurred vision or fainting.
When an allergic reaction causes difficulty breathing, anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, it can be life threatening.
What Vaccines Are Known to Cause Allergic Reactions?
Allergic reactions can be caused by a number of vaccines. The most common are:
- Diphtheria, Tetanus or Pertussis (DTap, DT, Td, Tdap, DTP-Hib)
- Influenza (Flu)
- Hepatitis B
- Measles, Mumps, or Rubellla (MMR or MMRV)
- Polio (IPV)
Allergic reactions to vaccine may be serious, and you might be eligible for compensation. Take our free quiz now to find out if you qualify.
What Makes Vaccines Cause Allergic Reactions?
A number of substances in vaccines, or in the syringe, can cause an allergic reaction to a vaccine. These include:
- Gelatin. This is a stabilizing agent that is derived from cows or pigs
- Egg protein. Vaccines for the seasonal flu and yellow fever are made in eggs.
- Yeast. Hepatitis B vaccines and human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines are made by using small amount of yeast protein.
- Latex. This may be in the vial stoppers or syringe plungers.
- Neomycin. This antibacterial agent may be added in trace amounts to prevent bacterial contamination during the manufacturing process.
- Thimerosal. This also prevents the growth of bacteria in vaccines.
If you or a loved one is allergic to one or more of these substances, you can get the vaccination in an allergist’s office. They can take immediate action if you should have an allergic reaction from a vaccine. With some allergies, such as an egg protein allergy, the vaccine can safely be given with standard precautions.
Anaphylaxis, Anaphylactic Shock and Vaccines
Anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock are severe and life-threatening allergic reactions that can occur after a vaccine. Symptoms can begin with itchiness or hives, and progress to:
- Difficulty breathing
If you have these symptoms after a vaccination, or after any another trigger such as a bee sting, eating peanuts or shellfish and some medications, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room right away.
Am I eligible for vaccine injury compensation for allergic reactions?
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) includes allergic reactions as a covered injury.
If you or a loved one has developed symptoms of an allergic reaction, take our vaccine eligibility quiz to see if you qualify for compensation. Our experienced vaccine injury attorneys can file a claim for you with the VICP at no cost to you.