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The COVID-19 Vaccine: The Latest Information for People With Asthma and Allergies

 
Updates as of Oct. 7, 2021:

We have updated this blog post to reflect the most recent recommendations from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As more information becomes available, we will continue to update our community.


The COVID-19 vaccine is an important part of reducing the spread of the coronavirus, ending the pandemic, and protecting ourselves and other people. It can reduce your chance of severe COVID-19, hospital stays, and death.

What Do I Need to Know About the COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Available?

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and easily available throughout the United States for anyone 12 years and older. There are currently three vaccines available: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, also known as Comirnaty®

Comirnaty® [koe-MIR-nah-tee] by Pfizer-BioNTech is an mRNA vaccine given in two shots three weeks apart. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for people 16 and older. It is authorized for emergency use for children ages 12 to 15. You are fully vaccinated two weeks after your second shot.

If you are moderately-to-severely immunocompromised, you should get a third shot at least four weeks after your second shot. If you take a high dose of corticosteroids (like prednisone), have received an organ transplant, or have other serious health conditions, talk with your doctor about your vaccine options.

Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots are available for the following groups at least six months after they have gotten their second shot:

  • 65 or older
  • 18 and older with a job that exposes you to the coronavirus and puts you at risk for severe complications
  • 18 and older who live in high-risk settings, such as long-term care centers
  • 18 and older with underlying medical conditions, such as moderate-to-severe asthma

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine does not contain any food proteins, latex, or preservatives. It does contain mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid).

Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19-vaccine-ingredients


During clinical trials for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, these were some of the common side effects:

  • Pain and swelling on the arm where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

More people felt the side effects after the second dose of the vaccine.

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is an mRNA vaccine given in two shots four weeks apart. It is authorized for emergency use by the FDA for people 18 and older. You are fully vaccinated two weeks after your second shot.

If you are moderately-to-severely immunocompromised, you should get a third shot at least four weeks after your second shot. If you take a high dose of corticosteroids (like prednisone), have received an organ transplant, or have other serious health conditions, talk with your doctor about your vaccine options.

The FDA and CDC have not recommended Moderna booster shots at this time. But Moderna has asked the FDA to authorize booster shots. An FDA committee plans to review Moderna’s booster data soon.

The Moderna vaccine does not contain any food proteins, latex, or preservatives. It does contain mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid).

Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Ingredients


During clinical trials for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, these were some of the common side effects:

  • Pain and swelling on the arm where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the same arm where the injection was given
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

More people felt the side effects after the second dose of the vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 Vaccine

The J&J vaccine is a viral vector vaccine given in one shot. It is authorized for emergency use by the FDA for people 18 and older. You are fully vaccinated two weeks after your shot.

The FDA and CDC have not recommended second J&J shots for immunocompromised people or booster shots at this time. But J&J has asked to FDA to authorize booster shots. An FDA committee plans to review J&J’s booster data soon.

The J&J vaccine does not contain any food proteins, latex, or preservatives.

Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine ingredients


During clinical trials for the J&J COVID-19 vaccine, these were some of the common side effects:

  • Pain, redness, and swelling on the arm where the shot was given
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

Who Can Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccine is free to everyone. You can get your shot at a local pharmacy, clinic, or vaccination center. Go to vaccines.gov to find a location.

You can get a COVID-19 vaccine if you:

  • Are 12 and older
  • Have a medical condition
  • Are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed
  • Are pregnant and lactating (nursing)
  • Have allergies to food, pets, insects, venom, pollen, dust, latex, and oral medicines
  • Have a non-serious allergy to other vaccines or injectable medicines
  • Have a family history of anaphylaxis or any other history of anaphylaxis to anything other than a vaccine or injectable medicine

Your doctor may need to give you more information about the vaccine depending on your condition.

If you have a history of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), you may be monitored up to 30 minutes after the shot. For everyone else, you will be monitored for 15 minutes after the shot.

Talk with your doctor about risks and benefits before getting a COVID-19 vaccine and get the shots in a clinic or doctor’s office if you have a:

  • Moderate or acute (short-term) illness (such as the flu)
  • History of anaphylaxis to another vaccine or injectable medicines
  • Severe or immediate allergic reaction to previous dose or any ingredient (also called “excipients” or “components”) of a COVID-19 vaccine
  • History of an allergic reaction to PEG or polysorbate

According to the CDC, if you are allergic to PEG, you should not get an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. Ask your doctor about getting the J&J shot.

If you are allergic to polysorbate, you should not get the J&J vaccine. Ask your doctor if you can get an mRNA vaccine instead.

If you have a reaction to the first dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech/Moderna), talk with your doctor about your options.

People who currently have or recently had COVID-19 should finish self-isolation and talk to their doctors about when to get the vaccine.

If you received COVID-19 antibody treatment, wait 90 days after receiving the treatment to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

pfizer covid-19 vaccine chart-v2Click here for larger view

What Are the Recommendations for COVID-19 Vaccines for Pregnant People?

If you are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant, you should get the COVID-19 vaccine. Pregnant people are at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 when compared to non-pregnant people.1 If you had a recent pregnancy (for at least 42 days following the end of pregnancy), it may also raise your risk for developing severe COVID-19. If you get COVID-19 while pregnant, you are at increased risk for preterm birth (delivering the baby earlier than 37 weeks) and other poor pregnancy outcomes.2

Can Children 11 and Younger Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 12 are still being studied. Pfizer clinical trials have shown in Phase 2/3 that the vaccine was safe and effective for children ages 5 to 11.3

The FDA is also carefully looking at vaccines for children. They released a statement on steps they will take to ensure covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective for young children.

Pfizer has asked the FDA to authorize use of its COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. An expert panel will discuss this on Oct. 26, 2021. Pfizer is also expected to release clinical trial data on ages 6 months through 5 years old by the end of Octob.er Moderna has also asked the FDA to authorize its COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12 to 17.

What Do I Need to Know Before I Get My COVID-19 Vaccine?

If you have a history of anaphylaxis, you may be monitored up to 30 minutes after the shot. For everyone else, you will be monitored for 15 minutes after the shot.

Do not take over-the-counter pain medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) before getting a COVID-19 vaccine to reduce side effects. Taking over-the-counter pain medicines or anti-inflammatories may stop the vaccine from working as it should and reduce its ability to make antibodies. Talk with your doctor about taking pain medicines after you get the shot.

You can get the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.

If you get allergy shots (immunotherapy) or biologic shots or infusions, talk with your allergist if your shot schedule overlaps with getting the COVID-19 vaccine. There is not a lot of data on allergy shots, biologics, and the COVID-19 vaccine at this time. But to help reduce confusion if you have local reactions or side effects, it may help to spread these out by a few days.

What Do I Do If You Have Side Effects to the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The CDC is asking people to help report any side effects to the COVID-19 vaccines. V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through v-safe, you can quickly tell the CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from the CDC may call to check on you and get more information. And v-safe will remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one. The information on how to register for v-safe can be found on the vaccination record card you receive when you get the shot. If you cannot find your card, please contact your health care provider.

What Activities Can I Do Safely If I Am Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19? Do I Have to Wear a Mask?

Once you are fully vaccinated, you can go back to doing many of the activities you did before the pandemic. But if there is a high rate of COVID-19 in your area, wear a mask in public indoor places, even if you are fully vaccinated.

Continuing to wear a face mask may have benefits. If you have asthma or allergies, masks can help protect you from pollen and other allergens and irritants that trigger symptoms. Masks also can protect you from respiratory infections like the flu, COVID-19, and even the common cold. Masks provide increased protection for people who are immunocompromised.

The CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.

If you have a condition or are taking medicines that weaken your immune system, talk with your doctor about which activities are safe to do.

AAFA recommends that you postpone any unnecessary travel.

What Should I Do If I’m Not Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19?

If you have not received a COVID-19 shot yet, plan to get vaccinated as soon as possible. People who are unvaccinated are at the higher risk of getting the coronavirus, spreading it to other people, and becoming hospitalized and/or dying of the virus. If you believe you are not eligible for the vaccine due to your medical conditions, talk with your doctor to see what options may be available to you.

Medical Review October 2021 by Mitchell Grayson, MD

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References
1. Zambrano LD, Ellington S, Strid P, et al. Update: Characteristics of Symptomatic Women of Reproductive Age with Laboratory-Confirmed SARS-CoV-2 Infection by Pregnancy Status — United States, January 22–October 3, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1641–1647. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6944e3
2. Allotey J, Stallings E, Bonet M, Yap M, Chatterjee S, Kew T et al. Clinical manifestations, risk factors, and maternal and perinatal outcomes of coronavirus disease 2019 in pregnancy: living systematic review and meta-analysis BMJ 2020; 370 :m3320 doi:10.1136/bmj.m3320
3. Pfizer and BioNTech announce positive topline results from pivotal trial of COVID-19 vaccine in children 5 to 11 years. Pfizer. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2021, from https://www.pfizer.com/news/pr...tive-topline-results.

Attachments

Images (3)
  • Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine ingredients: Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine ingredients
  • Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Ingredients: Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Ingredients
  • Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19-vaccine-ingredients: Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty COVID-19-vaccine-ingredients

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is the largest and oldest nonprofit patient organization dedicated to asthma and allergies. Our online community includes public blogs. To post a comment, you will need to register or sign in.

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