Assessment of Immediate Allergic Reactions After Immunization With the Pfizer BNT162b2 Vaccine Using Intradermal Skin Testing With the COVID-19 Vaccines

Ronen Shavit, Ramit Maoz-Segal, Irena Offengenden, Soad Haj Yahia, Diti Machnes Maayan, Yulia Lifshitz, Stanley Niznik, Michal Deutch, Eti Elbaz, Hosney Genaim, Mona Iancovici-Kidon, Nancy Agmon-Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Allergic reactions to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines have raised concerns, particularly as repeated doses are required. Skin tests with the vaccines excipient were found to be of low value, whereas the utility of skin tests with the whole vaccine is yet to be determined. Objective: To evaluate a panel of skin tests and the outcomes of subsequent doses of immunization among subjects who suffered an immediate allergic reaction to the BioNTech (BNT162b2) COVID-19 vaccine. Methods: Between March and December 2021, patients who experienced symptoms consistent with immediate allergic reactions to the BNT162b2 vaccine and were referred to the Sheba Medical Center underwent skin testing with polyethylene glyol (PEG)-containing medicines, Pfizer-BNT162b2, and Oxford–AstraZeneca vaccine (AZD1222). Further immunization was performed accordingly and under medical observation. Results: A total of 51 patients underwent skin testing for suspected allergy to the COVID vaccines, of which 38 of 51 (74.5%) were nonreactive, 7 of 51(13.7%) had no skin sensitization but suffered a clinical reaction during skin testing (mainly cough), and 6 of 51 (11.7%) exhibited immediate skin sensitization. Both skin sensitization and cough during testing were related to a higher use of adrenaline following immunization (P = .08 and P = .024, respectively). Further immunization with the BNT162b2 vaccine was recommended unless sensitization or severe reaction to previous immunization was evident. The latter were referred to be tested/receive the alternative AZD1222 vaccine. Ten patients underwent skin testing with AZD1222: 2 of 10 (20%) demonstrated skin sensitization to both vaccines; thus, 8 of 10 were immunized with the AZD1222, of which 2 of 8 (25%) had allergic reactions. Conclusions: Immediate allergic reactions to COVID-19 vaccines are rare but can be severe and reoccur. Intradermal testing with the whole vaccine may discriminate sensitized subjects, detect cross-sensitization between vaccines, and enable estimation of patients at higher risk.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Allergy
  • AZD1222
  • BNT162b2
  • COVID-19
  • Skin test
  • Vaccine


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