Aaron Rodgers says he’s allergic to the COVID vaccine. Is this common?

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Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers leaves the field after a game on Sunday, October 24, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin (AP Photo / Aaron Gash)

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Allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are possible, but they are extremely rare, especially the more serious ones. Mostly, they can occur after any vaccine.

Anaphylaxis – a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction – has occurred in about two to five people per million people vaccinated in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health experts advise people with a known allergy to any of the ingredients in any of the three COVID-19 vaccines talk with their doctor on which coronavirus vaccine is safest for them.

The issue gained attention after Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he did his own research before learning he was allergic to an ingredient in COVID-19 mRNA vaccines , including the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which share similar makeup, McClatchy News reported. .

“Actually, it was pretty easy to take out two of them and it didn’t involve going into the dubious history of some of their criminal activity or fraud cases,” Rodgers said of the vaccines on November 5 on Pat McAfee Show Live. “I have an allergy to an ingredient in mRNA vaccines.”

The NFL superstar said the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine was also not an option for him, citing “adverse events” that have been reported in some people, including blood clots.

Rodgers has not disclosed which ingredient he is allergic to in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, but studies indicate polyethylene glycol (PEG), an inactive part of mRNA injections called an “excipient.”

“Excipients are needed and added to a vaccine for specific purposes such as stimulate a stronger immune response, preventing contamination with bacteria or stabilizing the activity of the vaccine during transport and storage, ”said a team of allergists in April.

Some other inactive ingredients include a variety of lipids that help with stability, salts – such as potassium chloride and sodium acetate – and sugars (sucrose). The only active ingredient in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is mRNA, an RNA subtype that is the genetic material of the coronavirus and can already be found in our bodies. It contains instructions that teach our cells to make antibodies against the coronavirus.

This is why the allergy team says people with a history of food or drug allergies can be safely given a coronavirus vaccine, especially since both options do not contain any foods such as eggs. , drugs, preservatives or latex – all common allergens.

Many skin prick testing have linked PEG to allergic reactions following vaccination with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

“It is believed that allergic reactions linked to the COVID-19 vaccine are caused by PEG“said Dr. David Lang, allergist and chair of the Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the Cleveland Clinic, in October.” It is not yet known whether some of the reactions occur via another mechanism.

“Even though there is a risk of anaphylaxis, it is still very low – and the potential benefit from COVID-19 vaccination clearly outweighs the potential for harm,” Lang added. “The situation is changing, however, and we will learn more as we continue to work with these vaccines.”

PEG is closely related to polysorbate, an ingredient in the J&J vaccine, according to the CDC; if you are allergic to PEG, you should not get the mRNA vaccine and get the J&J vaccine. The same reasoning applies to allergies to polysorbates.

Most allergic reactions occur in people with a history of allergies

CDC study published in January found 21 cases of anaphylaxis among more than 1.8 million recipients a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, or approximately 11 cases per million vaccine doses administered; 81% of those affected had a history of allergies or allergic reactions to drugs, medical products, foods, insect bites or other vaccines. Some have had anaphylactic events in the past.

A separate study published in March also found that allergic reactions after COVID-19 vaccination were rare.

Out of 64,900 healthcare workers, 98% did not have an allergic reaction. The majority of the remaining 2% had a history of allergy, and 31% had a history of anaphylaxis.

The study also found that people with a history of severe food and drug allergies had a safe vaccination experience.

“The overall risk of anaphylaxis from a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine remains extremely low and broadly comparable to other common healthcare exposures,” the researchers wrote in their study published in the journal JAMA.

The CDC also warns against taking allergy medications before COVID-19 vaccination to prevent allergic reactions, as it is not known how these drugs might affect the body’s immune response.

Experts define an allergic reaction as a reaction that requires hospitalization or treatment with epinephrine. Immediate reactions occur within four hours of vaccination and can cause hives, swelling and breathing problems.

This story was originally published 5 November 2021 3:12 pm.

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Katie Camero is a McClatchy National Real-Time Science reporter. She is a Boston University alumnus and has reported for the Wall Street Journal, Science and The Boston Globe.


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