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Here's What People With Food Allergies Need to Know About COVID Vaccine

This top concern has caused some people to consider skipping the shot. Here’s the latest.
FACT CHECKED BY Cheyenne Buckingham

When the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer was still in development, some health experts raised concerns over whether its formulation would be safe for people with food allergies—similar to the way people with egg allergies were once advised to avoid the flu shot.

But good news: Not only has that guidance changed if you have egg allergies, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulators recently announced that those with food allergies can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as well. (Related: The One Vitamin Doctors Are Urging Everyone to Take Right Now.)

"About 1.6% of the population has had a severe allergic reaction of some sort or another to a food or some environmental aspect and we would really not like to have that many people not able to receive the vaccine," said Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA division that authorized the vaccine, at a press conference over the weekend.

That may seem like a small percentage, but for reference, the U.S. population sits at just over 328 million people. That means 1.6% would be about 5.2 million people who wouldn't be getting the vaccine if they were disqualified because of previous food or environmental allergies.

There's a catch to that, though. If you've had a severe allergic reaction to other vaccines, including the flu shot, or you suspect you might have an issue with ingredients in this particular vaccine, you should probably avoid getting the vaccine until more is known about potential reactions, according to guidance from the CDC.

So far, there have been no reports of serious allergic reactions to the Pfizer vaccine among the 44,000 participants in the late-stage clinical trial—however, keep in mind the trial didn't include people who've had a history of reactions to other vaccines. Two health care workers in Britain did experience severe reactions on the first day of rollout, causing a shift in the procedure that required doctors to monitor each vaccinated person for 15 minutes after the shot, but no subsequent reactions have been reported.

If you have food allergies, especially ones that may include the threat of anaphylactic reactions, the FDA suggests having a conversation with your doctor before you get vaccinated, to make sure you won't be negatively affected by any of the vaccine ingredients.

And for more information on when the vaccine will become widely available, be sure to read This Is When Costco Will Have the COVID-19 Vaccine, CEO Says.

Elizabeth Millard
Elizabeth Millard is a freelance writer specializing in health, fitness, and nutrition. Read more
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