Delayed Skin Reactions to COVID-19 mRNA-1273 Vaccine: Case Report and Literature Review

Vaccines (Basel). 2022 Aug 28;10(9):1412. doi: 10.3390/vaccines10091412.


Background: The COVID-19 mRNA vaccine was granted emergency use authorization (EUA) on December 18, 2020. Some patients experienced a transient, pruritic rash at the injection site, which was referred to as "COVID arm". It is considered a delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction and occurs mostly in individuals after vaccination with the Moderna vaccine but rarely with other mRNA vaccines.

Case summary: A healthy 33-year-old woman with no history of disease or long-term medication presented with fever and rash on the left upper arm three days after her first vaccination with the mRNA-1273 vaccine (Moderna).

Results: After treatment with antihistamines, all lesions gradually resolved over the following 4 to 5 days.

Conclusion: We report a case of "COVID arm": a localized erythematous rash surrounding the injection site that arose three days after the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Delayed injection site reactions occurred in approximately 0.8% of vaccinated people after the first dose and in approximately 0.2% after the second dose. The lesions persisted for several days and then resolved without treatment. Health care providers were not prepared to address these delayed local reactions to the mRNA-1273 vaccine. Given the scale-up of mass vaccination campaigns worldwide, these skin reactions may likely generate concerns among patients and requests for evaluation. Although these skin reactions have not been consistently recognized, guidance regarding the second dose of the vaccine has varied, and many patients have unnecessarily received antibiotic agents.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; adverse effect; delayed injection site reactions; delayed skin reactions; vaccine.

Publication types

  • Case Reports