I’ve had reactions to a vaccine before. Is it safe for me to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Do I need to get the vaccine in a special location, like a hospital?

Question: 

I’ve had reactions to a vaccine before. Is it safe for me to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Do I need to get the vaccine in a special location, like a hospital?

Answer: 

Nearly everyone will be able to safely receive the vaccine, although a very small number of people may need to avoid vaccination due to severe allergies to parts of the vaccine. 

There are very few reasons someone should not get the COVID-19 vaccine. You should not get the vaccine if you:

  • Have serious allergies to any of the ingredients in the vaccines. An ingredient in the mRNA vaccines that have been associated with a rare but serious allergy (anaphylaxis) is polyethylene glycol (PEG). PEG can be found in some cosmetics, skincare products, laxatives, some processed foods and drinks and other products. Note: PEG is not in the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines.
  • Have had a life-threatening reaction to a previous dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or to any part of the vaccine.
  • Talk to your health care provider if you have had an anaphylactic reaction but do not know the cause.

Serious life-threatening allergic reactions to vaccines (anaphylaxis) are extremely rare - much rarer than people think. Anaphylaxis is preventable in many cases and treatable in all cases. All immunizing healthcare providers in BC are required to be trained and actively watch for and treat anaphylaxis immediately. For those with allergies, your healthcare provider may ask you to wait for a longer period of time (for example, 30 minutes). Rarely, based on the recommendations of an allergist and Medical Health Officer, a person may receive a vaccine in a hospital setting.

Date last updated: 
Tuesday, Mar 09, 2021
Date last reviewed: 
Friday, Mar 05, 2021