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COVID questions: Visiting considerations; allergy concerns

February 18, 2021 By Kristina LeVan

Editor’s note: We will be publishing answers to questions about COVID-19 and the pandemic each week in this COVID questions column. If you have a question, please email it to

Q: Can I visit someone who has been vaccinated against COVID-19?

A: The COVID-19 vaccine protects most individuals from contracting the virus, and for those few who do still become infected it protects them from more serious illness. Unfortunately, it’s uncertain whether the vaccines protect someone from being a carrier of the virus, so there is still a risk of infecting those who visit, or of contracting the virus themselves.

Before planning a visit, it’s important to have an honest conversation about it in advance to make sure everyone understands the risks. At this time, the safest thing to do is refrain from visiting those outside your household.

However, here are a few things to consider when weighing a visit to someone who has been vaccinated:

  • Full benefits of vaccination do not occur until at least one week after the second vaccine dose.
  • It is best for each party to quarantine prior to a visit.
  • Testing prior to a visit may lower risk, but does not guarantee someone is not infected.
  • Risk can be lowered by maintaining physical distancing and wearing a well-fitting mask during the visit.

—Matt Anderson, senior medical director, primary care, UW Health

Q: I’ve heard that one of the vaccines has an adverse reaction in people that have a shellfish allergy. Is this true, and which one?

A: People who have previously had anaphylaxis should have a discussion with their primary care physician (PCP) before getting the COVID-19 vaccine. There was a doctor in Boston with a history of shellfish allergies who had a mild allergic reaction to the Moderna vaccine in December, and the media coverage may be what you have heard. There have been reports of a few scattered allergic reactions to Pfizer as well, so it does not appear to be brand-specific. Currently, the only allergies that are contraindicated for getting the COVID-19 vaccine are previous anaphylaxis reactions to any ingredients used in the vaccine (e.g., polyethylene glycol [PEG]).

—Devlin Cole, preventive medicine resident, UW–Madison Department of Population Health Sciences

Q: What is the effect of the COVID-19 vaccine on women of childbearing age and females under 18?

A: The COVID-19 vaccine does not cause sterilization to women of childbearing age. I personally am a woman of childbearing years, and I got the vaccine as early as I could! And though the COVID-19 vaccine trials did not include pregnant or breastfeeding women, many pregnant or breastfeeding women in eligible populations in the U.S. and around the world have successfully been vaccinated. Personally, I have many friends in the health care field who are getting vaccinated as they are pregnant or breastfeeding, and one doctor even tested her breast milk and was thrilled to find that she was passing protective antibodies to her infant. For more information on how this myth got started, check out:

—Devlin Cole, preventive medicine resident, UW–Madison Department of Population Health Sciences

Read more COVID questions and answers