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HKSH Allergy Centre Launches Pre-vaccination Screening Service to Enhance Safety for COVID-19 Vaccination

2021-02-18
(18 February 2021, Hong Kong) HKSH Allergy Centre has launched a new pre-vaccination allergy screening service to provide care for patients and members of the public who have a history of drug or vaccine allergy.

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Pre-vaccination Screening Service ––– Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the purpose of the COVID-19 pre-vaccination service?
    The Pre-vaccination Screening Service aims to help enhance vaccine safety for those are at high risk for severe allergic reaction associated with injection of a COVID-19 vaccine, especially with a history of drug or vaccine allergy.

  2. What is vaccine allergy?
    Similar to foods or drugs, people can be allergic to vaccines, but it is very rare.  Allergic symptoms to vaccines range from hives to anaphylaxis.

  3. What are the likely causes for allergic reactions related to COVID-19 vaccines?
    The cause of the severe allergy following COVID-19 vaccination is unknown and there is no precedent as these mRNA vaccines are new. Historically, reactions to other vaccines are seldom caused by the active ingredients. Instead, inactive ingredients, such as the excipients polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polysorbates added to improve solubility, are the commonest causes of reactions. Over recent years, excipients have been recognised as hidden allergens that may be causing repeated reactions in patients with hitherto undiagnosed severe allergic reactions to multiple classes of drugs.

  4. What do I need to do for COVID-19 pre-vaccination screening?
    You will be required to complete a questionnaire to evaluate your history of drug/ vaccine allergy. Depending on your level of risk you will undergo a series of tests, including skin prick and/or intradermal injections of diluted and safe doses of substances containing excipients commonly used in vaccines.

  5. How long does this COVID-19 Pre-vaccination screening service take?
    Since you will need to be assessed by our allergist before and to be observed after the testing, please allow 2 to 3 hours for this service.

  6. Will I know which vaccine is more suitable for me after pre-vaccination screening?
    The service will advise patients under what circumstances they can have their first injection containing a particular excipient, and/or their second injection if they had experienced a reaction after their first dose.

  7. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine injection on the same day of the Pre-vaccination screening service?
    The Pre-vaccination Screening Service aims to help enhance vaccine safety for those are at high risk for severe allergic reaction associated with injection of a COVID-19 vaccine, especially with a history of drug or vaccine allergy. It is advisable to receive the pre-vaccination screening days ahead.

    Separate bookings for Pre-vaccination Screening Service and the Government’s COVID-19 Vaccination Programme have to be done separately by you.

    For details of the territory-wide COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, please visit: (https://www.covidvaccine.gov.hk/en/programme)