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Allergy Shots


(Allergen Immunotherapy)

Who Benefits?
The Cost?
How Shots Work
Injection Facilities
Are There Risks?

  • ​Allergen Immunotherapy will reduce your sensitivity to allergens.

  • Work for allergies affecting the nose, eyes, and lungs, and some types of skin allergies. 

  • Most people will experience dramatic relief of their symptoms AND no longer require as much medication for symptoms they do have.  This benefit continues in most even after treatment is stopped.  

  • In bee sting [or other stinging insects] allergy, shots can be LIFESAVING.  

    • If a person who has had an anaphylactic reaction to insect venom is stung again, ~60% will have another life-threatening reaction.  Shots reduce that probability to less than 5%.


***Allergy shots are not used to treat food allergies. The best option for people with food allergies is to strictly avoid that food***

Who Can Benefit From Allergy Shots?

  • Both children and adults . . . although we rarely use them in children under age five.  

  • The greater your suffering, the greater your benefit will be from the shots.  

  • Consider a course of allergy shots if:

    • Your allergy season is more than a few months of the year

    • Your allergy symptoms are so severe that they interfere with your life 

      • Have you ever had to cancel plans "because my allergies are flaring up"?​

    • Medications and/or environmental controls are not helping

    • You want to avoid long-term medication use

    • You are willing to commit yourself to the treatment (allergy shots require a significant time commitment)

What is the Cost?

  • Depends on your insurance coverage, though essentially all insurers cover shots.  

    • Here at Alligator Allergy and Asthma, we do offer cash pay prices.​

  • Overall, the cost of shots is much less than usual treatment for the allergic diseases

    • Cost analysis studies consistently show that allergy shots  cost less than 'usual care' (i.e.    medications, office visits,  treatment of complications of allergic disease, etc)


How Do Allergy Shots Work?


  • Allergy shots work like a vaccine.

  • Your body responds to injected amounts of a particular allergen, given in gradually increasing doses, by developing immunity or tolerance to the allergen.


There are two phases:

  • Build-up phase

    • This involves receiving injections with increasing amounts of the allergens about one to two times per week.

    • The length of this phase depends upon how often the injections are received:

      • Twice-weekly injections usually 3 months

      • Once - weekly injections usually 6 months

      • In special cases, this schedule can be 'rushed.'

  • Maintenance phase

    • This begins once the effective dose is reached.

      • The effective maintenance dose depends on your level of allergen sensitivity and your response to the build-up phase.

    • During the maintenance phase, there will be longer periods of time between treatments, ranging from two to four weeks.

      • Your allergist/immunologist will decide what range is best for you.

    • You will usually notice a decrease in symptoms during the build-up phase, but it may take as long as 12 months on the maintenance dose to reach maximum improvement.

    • Maintenance treatment is generally continued for three to five years.

How Effective Are Allergy Shots?



  • Allergy shots decrease symptoms of allergies while decreasing the need for medications.

  • Shots can prevent the development of new allergies.

  • In children, they can prevent the progression of allergic disease from allergic rhinitis to asthma.


  • The effectiveness of allergy shots appears to be related to the length of the treatment program as well as the dose of the allergen.

    • Some people experience lasting relief from allergy symptoms, while others may relapse after discontinuing allergy shots.

  • Failure to respond to allergy shots may be due to several factors:

    •  Inadequate dose of allergen in the allergy vaccine

    • Missing allergens not identified during the allergy evaluation

    • High levels of allergen in the environment

    • Significant exposure to non-allergic triggers, such as tobacco smoke


Where Should Allergy Shots Be Given?


  • This type of treatment should be supervised by a specialized physician in a facility equipped with proper staff and equipment to identify and treat adverse reactions to allergy injections.

  • Ideally, immunotherapy should be given in your allergist/immunologist's office.  

    • If this is not possible, your allergist/immunologist should provide the supervising physician with comprehensive instructions about your allergy shot treatments.

Are There Risks?


  • A typical reaction is redness and swelling at the injection site.  This can happen immediately or several hours after the treatment.

    • In some instances, symptoms can include increased allergy symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion or hives.  

  • Serious reactions to allergy shots are rare, about 1 in 3,000 injections.  When they do occur, they require immediate medical attention.

  • Symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction can include:

    • Swelling in the throat

    • Wheezing or tightness in the chest

    • Nausea

    • Dizziness.  

  • Most serious reactions develop within 30 minutes of the allergy injections.  This is why it is recommended you wait in your doctor's office for at least 30 minutes after you receive allergy shots. 

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