Vaccine hypersensitivity--update and overview

Swiss Med Wkly. 2010 May 1;140(17-18):238-46.


Concerns about possible reactions to vaccines or vaccinations are frequently raised. However, the rate of reported vaccine-induced adverse events is low and ranges between 4.8-83.0 per 100,000 doses of the most frequently used vaccines. The number of true allergic reactions to routine vaccines is not known; estimations range from 1 per 500,000 to 1 per 1,000,000 doses for most vaccines. When allergens such as gelatine or egg proteins are components of the formulation, the rate for serious allergic reactions may be higher. Nevertheless, anaphylactic, potentially life-threatening reactions to vaccines are still a rare event (approximately 1 per 1,500,000 doses). The variety of reported vaccine-related adverse events is broad. Most frequently, reactions to vaccines are limited to the injection site and result from a non specific activation of the inflammatory system by, for example, aluminium salts or the active microbial components. If allergy is suspected, an accurate examination followed by algorithms is the key for correct diagnosis, treatment and the decision regarding revaccination in patients with immediate-type reactions to vaccines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems
  • Algorithms
  • Aluminum Compounds / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Egg Proteins / adverse effects
  • Fungal Proteins / adverse effects
  • Gelatin / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / chemically induced*
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / chemically induced*
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical / adverse effects
  • Risk Factors
  • Thimerosal / adverse effects
  • Toxoids / adverse effects
  • Vaccines / adverse effects*


  • Aluminum Compounds
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Egg Proteins
  • Fungal Proteins
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical
  • Toxoids
  • Vaccines
  • Thimerosal
  • Gelatin