What is the purpose of a booster vaccination? Give an example and how an allergic reaction might occur in this situation.


What is the purpose of a booster vaccination? Give an example and how an allergic reaction might occur in this situation.

In essence, vaccines are composed of dead or inactivated parts of bacteria or viruses in order to expose the immune system to the antigen so immunity can be developed (VanMeter et al., 2018). However, Chung indicates that vaccines contain other ingredients other than antigens for immunity, they also contain conjugating agents, stabilizers, preservatives, eggs, yeast and gelatin which can cause potential allergic reactions and mild reactions are becoming more common due to those ingredients (2014).  VanMeter and colleagues indicate that signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction do not take place after the first exposure to an allergen. At the first exposure the immune system forms antibodies and sensitizes the mast cells. Mast cells are responsible for producing the inflammatory response and releasing histamines (2018). VanMeter et al. point out that the purpose of a vaccine booster is to remind the immune system of the antigen in order to produce the specific antibodies to fight the antigen. Once another vaccine is given it triggers the immune system to recall that specific antigen and the antibodies that target that antigen are released (2018).  One example of an allergic reaction triggered by a vaccine is the tuberculin or Mantoux skin test in which the body creates an inflammatory response at the injection site on the skin indicating previous exposure to the antigen. BCG is a vaccine produced from the bacillus Calmette-Guerin given in some countries against tuberculosis (VanMeter et al., 2018). The inflammatory response is generated by the immune system to alert the system where the allergen is and to remove it. Signs of allergic reaction to the Mantoux test are redness, swelling and pain in the area of the injection site (VanMeter et al., 2018).  McNeil et al. specify that it is advisable to be cautious when giving booster vaccinations. The DTAP (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis) vaccine contains milk proteins used as stabilizers and may create anaphylactic reactions to booster vaccines for children with cow milk allergies (2018).  As a nurse practitioner it would be advisable to ask the patient about their allergies and vaccination history, reviewing the ingredients contained in vaccines and being aware of signs and symptoms of allergic reactions.


Chung E. H. (2014). Vaccine allergies. Clinical and experimental vaccine research, 3(1), 50–57. https://doi.org/10.7774/cevr.2014.3.1.50 McNeil, M. M., & DeStefano, F. (2018). Vaccine-associated hypersensitivity. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 141(2), 463–472. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaci.2017.12.971 VanMeter, K.C., & Hubert, R.J. (2018). Gould’s pathophysiology for the health professions. Elsevier Saunders.

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