Utility and futility of skin testing to address concerns surrounding messenger RNA coronavirus disease 2019 vaccine reactions

Mitchell M. Pitlick, Andrea N. Sitek, Michael E. D'Netto, Kelley N. Dages, Sergio E. Chiarella, Alexei Gonzalez-Estrada, Avni Y. Joshi, Miguel A. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The mechanism of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine hypersensitivity reactions is unknown. COVID-19 vaccine excipient skin testing has been used in evaluation of these reactions, but its utility in predicting subsequent COVID-19 vaccine tolerance is also unknown. Objective: To evaluate the utility of COVID-19 vaccine and vaccine excipient skin testing in both patients with an allergic reaction to their first messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccine dose and patients with a history of polyethylene glycol allergy who have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccine dose. Methods: In this multicenter, retrospective review, COVID-19 vaccine and vaccine excipient skin testing was performed in patients referred to 1 of 3 large tertiary academic institutions. Patient medical records were reviewed after skin testing to determine subsequent COVID-19 vaccine tolerance. Results: A total of 129 patients underwent skin testing, in whom 12 patients (9.3%) had positive results. There were 101 patients who received a COVID-19 vaccine after the skin testing, which was tolerated in 90 patients (89.1%) with no allergic symptoms, including 5 of 6 patients with positive skin testing results who received a COVID-19 vaccine after the skin testing. The remaining 11 patients experienced minor allergic symptoms after COVID-19 vaccination, none of whom required treatment beyond antihistamines. Conclusion: The low positivity rate of COVID-19 vaccine excipient skin testing and high rate of subsequent COVID-19 vaccine tolerance suggest a low utility of this method in evaluation of COVID-19 vaccine hypersensitivity reactions. Focus should shift to the use of existing vaccine allergy practice parameters, with consideration of graded dosing when necessary. On the basis of these results, strict avoidance of subsequent COVID-19 vaccination should be discouraged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAnnals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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