The CDC considers a history of the following to be a contraindication to vaccination with COVID-19 vaccines:
- Severe allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose or to a component of the COVID-19 vaccine
- Immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a previous dose or known (diagnosed) allergy to a component of the vaccine
Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is an ingredient in both mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, and polysorbate 80 is an ingredient in Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. PEG and polysorbate are structurally related, and cross-reactive hypersensitivity between these compounds may occur. People with a contraindication to one of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines should not receive doses of either of the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna). However, people with a contraindication to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may be able to receive Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, and vice versa, provided certain measures are taken (see “precautions” below). Known polysorbate allergy is no longer a contraindication to mRNA vaccination; however, known polysorbate allergy is a contraindication to Janssen COVID-19 vaccine and thus, a precaution to mRNA COVID-19 vaccination.
Most people deemed to have a precaution to a COVID-19 vaccine at the time of their vaccination appointment can and should be administered vaccine. CDC considers a history of an immediate allergic reaction to any other vaccine or injectable therapy (i.e., intramuscular, intravenous, or subcutaneous vaccines or therapies [excluding subcutaneous immunotherapy for allergies, i.e., “allergy shots”]) as a precaution but not a contraindication to vaccination. People with a history of an immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine or injectable therapy that contains multiple components, one or more of which is a component of a COVID-19 vaccine, have a precaution to vaccination with that COVID-19 vaccine, even if it is unknown which component elicited the allergic reaction.
People with a contraindication to one type of the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines (e.g., mRNA) have a precaution to the other (e.g., Janssen viral vector). However, because of potential cross-reactive hypersensitivity between ingredients in mRNA and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines, consultation with an allergist-immunologist should be considered to help determine if the patient can safely receive vaccination. Healthcare providers and health departments may also request a consultation from the Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment COVIDvax project. Vaccination of these individuals should only be undertaken in an appropriate setting under the supervision of a health care provider experienced in the management of severe allergic reactions.
- People with a contraindication to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (including due to a known PEG allergy): Consideration may be given to vaccination with Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. People who have received one mRNA COVID-19 vaccine dose but for whom the second dose is contraindicated should wait at least 28 days after the mRNA vaccine dose to receive Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.
- People with a contraindication to Janssen COVID-19 vaccine (including due to a known polysorbate allergy): Consideration may be given to mRNA COVID-19 vaccination. Of note, polysorbate allergy is no longer a contraindication to mRNA COVID-19 vaccination, it is a precaution.
Neither Contraindications or Precautions
Allergic reactions (including severe allergic reactions) not related to vaccines (COVID-19 or other vaccines) or injectable therapies, such as allergic reactions related to food, pet, venom, or environmental allergies, or allergies to oral medications (including the oral equivalents of injectable medications), are not a contraindication or precaution to COVID-19 vaccination. The vial stoppers of COVID-19 vaccines are not made with natural rubber latex, and there is no contraindication or precaution to vaccination for people with a latex allergy. In addition, because the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain eggs or gelatin, people with allergies to these substances do not have a contraindication or precaution to vaccination.
Delayed-onset local reactions have been reported after mRNA vaccination in some individuals beginning a few days through the second week after the first dose and are sometimes quite large. People with only a delayed-onset local reaction (e.g., erythema, induration, pruritus) around the injection site area after the first vaccine dose do not have a contraindication or precaution to the second dose. These individuals should receive the second dose using the same vaccine product as the first dose at the recommended interval, preferably in the opposite arm.
Vaccine providers should observe patients after vaccination to monitor for the occurrence of immediate adverse reactions. The CDC recommends the following observation periods:
- 30 minutes:
- History of an immediate allergic reaction of any severity to a vaccine or injectable therapy
- People with a contraindication to a different type of COVID-19 vaccine (for example, people with a contraindication to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines who receive Janssen viral vector vaccine should be observed for 30 minutes following Janssen vaccination).
- History of anaphylaxis due to any cause
- 15 minutes: All other people
Updated: June 28, 2021