What is changing
Up until now, people receiving the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines have been asked to wait for 15 minutes before leaving the vaccination centre. This was because the rate of serious allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) reported after these 2 vaccines is slight higher (around 5 to 10 per million doses) than after other vaccines (normally 1 per million).
Why this is changing
Due to the Omicron variant, the booster programme for adults is being accelerated. As part of this, and given the very low rate of anaphylaxis, the 15 minute wait has been suspended, as we now have much more experience with giving these vaccines to millions of people. People are not normally observed for 15 minutes after other vaccinations.
Who is advising this change
The change has been advised by the Chief Medical Officer, and has the support of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
What you should do when you attend your vaccination
If you have a history of allergies, particularly to other vaccines, or if you had an immediate reaction after your previous doses, you may be advised to stay for the full 15 minutes. Please make sure you tell the vaccination centre. Note that a family history of allergies (or even anaphylaxis) is not a risk factor.
Please also tell them if you have previously fainted following vaccination.
Otherwise you will be able to leave the centre straight after your vaccine as long as you feel okay. You must not drive for 15 minutes after the vaccine – this is because of the risk of fainting.
What happens if you do experience allergic symptoms
You should look out for the following symptoms:
- persistent cough
- vocal changes (hoarse voice)
- swollen tongue causing difficulty swallowing
- difficult or noisy breathing
- wheezing (like an asthma attack)
- feeling lightheaded or prolonged faint
- clammy skin
- unresponsive or unconscious
These symptoms typically happen within 15 minutes of vaccination.
If you experience any of these, call out for help and/or ring 999 immediately (or ask someone to do this for you).
The following symptoms are not anaphylaxis, but imply a more mild reaction:
- swollen lips, face or eyes
- itchy skin rash, for example ‘hives’, urticaria
If any of these symptoms occur and you need advice, contact 111 or your health professional.
Simple faints are much more common after vaccination. If you do faint, stay flat on your back with your legs raised. If this doesn’t make you feel better, then call for help.
You can report suspected side effects on the coronavirus Yellow Card website.
Read the product information leaflets for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for more details on your vaccine, including possible side effects.
Click the QR code to download the patient information leaflet