Vaccines and Latex Allergies
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last Reviewed: March 2022 | Last updated: May 2022
Latex allergy affects fewer than 1 out of every 100 people in the United States. But for those living with this allergy, taking precautions when having any kind of medical procedure is crucial. This includes when getting a vaccine.1
There may be a small risk of latex exposure with vaccines due to the packaging, vials, and syringes. By taking precautions, you can get vaccinated safely.
What are the risks?
Vaccines themselves do not contain latex, but the packaging and tools used to contain and deliver the shots sometimes do. For example, vaccine vial stoppers and syringe plungers may be made from natural rubber latex.2
Reports of vaccines contaminated with latex are rare. Tiny amounts of latex proteins may get into the vaccine through the packaging or storing of the vaccine vial. These proteins may also get into a vaccine when the stopper is punctured. If a vaccine is stored in a syringe that has latex in the plunger, the vaccine may become contaminated.2
There is very little documented evidence of how and when people with latex allergies react when getting a vaccine.
Tips for getting a vaccine safely
You can still get your shots when you have a latex allergy. You and your healthcare team just need to take some extra precautions. Some tips include:2
- Call the place where you will get your vaccine ahead of time. Let them know about your latex allergy and ask if they have experience accommodating people like you. Explain the severity of your allergy. Ask if they use latex-free gloves and syringes.
- Bring your own latex-free gloves and bandage to the appointment, just in case.
- Ask them to use a glass syringe and latex-free bandage to cover the site.
- Make sure someone qualified to recognize allergic reactions and anaphylaxis will be available to watch you for 15 minutes to 2 hours after receiving your shot.
Things your healthcare team can do to keep you safe include:2
- “Popping the top.” This prevents tiny bits of latex from getting into the vaccine when a syringe gets poked through the latex stopper.
- Follow the “1 stick rule.” This means that the vaccine container is only used once. This helps avoid the rubber stopper being stuck multiple times and spreading latex proteins into the vaccine.
If you have a history of IgE-mediated (type1) allergy to latex, your allergist may recommend having a skin test with the vaccine before getting the shot. The risks and benefits of getting another vaccine should be weighed with your allergist.2
Things to think about
Always talk with your doctor before getting any vaccine. Tell them about your latex allergy and talk about any concerns you have.
Talk with them about precautions that can be taken, and make sure to have your medicine and epinephrine auto-injectors with you. Ask them if there have been any recent alerts about vaccine packaging and latex allergies since this can change from year to year.2
You can also check ahead of your appointment to learn whether your vaccine is latex-free. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps a list of current vaccines and whether the packaging contains latex.3