Immediate hypersensitivity reactions following monovalent 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) vaccines: Reports to VAERS

Neal A. Halsey, Mari Griffioen, Stephen C. Dreskin, Cornelia L. Dekker, Robert Wood, Devindra Sharma, James F. Jones, Philip S. LaRussa, Jenny Garner, Melvin Berger, Tina Proveaux, Claudia Vellozzi, Karen Broder, Rosanna Setse, Barbara Pahud, David Hrncir, Howard Choi, Robert Sparks, Sarah Elizabeth Williams, Renata J. EnglerJane Gidudu, Roger Baxter, Nicola Klein, Kathryn Edwards, Maria Cano, John M. Kelso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Hypersensitivity disorders following vaccinations are a cause for concern. Objective: To determine the type and rate by age, gender, and vaccine received for reported hypersensitivity reactions following monovalent 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) vaccines. Design: A systematic review of reports to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) following monovalent 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) vaccines. Setting/patients: US Civilian reports following vaccine received from October 1, 2009 through May 31, 2010. Measurements: Age, gender, vaccines received, diagnoses, clinical signs, and treatment were reviewed by nurses and physicians with expertise in vaccine adverse events. A panel of experts, including seven allergists reviewed complex illnesses and those with conflicting evidence for classification of the event. Results: Of 1984 reports, 1286 were consistent with immediate hypersensitivity disorders and 698 were attributed to anxiety reactions, syncope, or other illnesses. The female-to-male ratio was ≥4:1 for persons 20-to-59 years of age, but approximately equal for children under 10. One hundred eleven reports met Brighton Collaboration criteria for anaphylaxis; only one-half received epinephrine for initial therapy. The overall rate of reported hypersensitivity reactions was 10.7 per million vaccine doses distributed, with a 2-fold higher rate for live vaccine. Limitations: Underreporting, especially of mild events, would result in an underestimate of the true rate of immediate hypersensitivity reactions. Selective reporting of events in adult females could have resulted in higher rates than reported for males. Conclusions: Adult females may be at higher risk of hypersensitivity reactions after influenza vaccination than men. Although the risk of hypersensitivity reactions following 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) vaccines was low, all clinics administering vaccines should be familiar with treatment guidelines for these adverse events, including the use of intramuscular epinephrine early in the course of serious hypersensitivity reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6107-6112
Number of pages6
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 9 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Allergic reactions
  • Anaphylaxis
  • H1N1 influenza vaccine
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Immunization
  • Influenza vaccine
  • Urticaria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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