Intended for healthcare professionals


Vaccinating against covid-19 in people who report allergies

BMJ 2021; 372 doi: (Published 18 January 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n120

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  1. Rebecca E Glover, head of economic, social, and political sciences1,
  2. Robert Urquhart, chief pharmacist2,
  3. Joanna Lukawska, consultant allergist3,
  4. Kimberly G Blumenthal, allergy specialist4
  1. 1AMR Centre, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  2. 2University College London Hospitals NHS Trust, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Specialist Allergy and Clinical Immunology, University College London Hospitals, London, UK
  4. 4Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Immunology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  1. Correspondence to: R E Glover rebecca.glover{at}

Most patients can be reassured and vaccinated

Use of the Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine in people with a history of severe allergies was temporarily stopped in the UK after two healthcare workers experienced anaphylactic reactions in early December. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) stated that “any person with a history of anaphylaxis to a vaccine, medicine, or food should not receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.”1

However, MHRA revised its position on 30 December after careful consideration based on enhanced surveillance of over one million doses of the vaccine in the UK and North America—including in jurisdictions where people with serious allergies were never barred from receiving the vaccine.2 It found no evidence of an increased risk of anaphylaxis to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine among people with serious but unrelated allergy histories and advised that only people who had an allergic reaction to the first dose of this vaccine, or who previously had reactions to any of its components, should not receive it.

This is welcome news for people with severe …

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