Allergy shots are a long-term treatment for individuals who have chronic allergies. Allergy shots are a type of immunotherapy that uses your immune system to fight off disease. Most of the time, allergy shots are covered by health insurance, but for uninsured patients, allergy shots can range from $20-$100 per visit.
Before you decide to get allergy shots, consult with your primary care provider for a proper workup and evaluation. For as low as $25 a month, Mira can provide you with in-person and virtual consultations. Additionally, Mira offers affordable laboratory testing and prescription medications. Sign up for Mira today!
The Costs of Allergy Shots
Allergy shots are usually used for building tolerance to pollen, dust, pet dander, and molds. For uninsured patients, an allergy shot will have two major costs: the allergy serum and the administration of the shot. The allergy serum will typically cost around $100, and the preparation/administration costs can range from $20-100 per visit. Since these shots are dosed weekly, the annual cost can range from $1,000 to $4,000 per year. As more time passes, the frequency of your allergy shots will decrease, and your costs will also decrease as a result.
Cost of Allergy Shots Based on Location
Depending on your location and your facility, the costs of allergy shots for uninsured individuals can differ drastically. The chart below compares allergy shot prices across the U.S.
|Facility||Location||Average Out-of-Pocket Costs|
|New York, NY||$1,000-4,000 annually|
|Allergy Associates of La Crosse||Onalaska, WI||$700-850 for the first visit, price drops for return visits|
|Cure Allergy Clinic||Arlington, TX||$610 for the first year, $300 for following years|
|West Side Head and Neck||Santa Monica, CA||$1,000-4,000 annually|
|Primer Allergist||Annapolis, MD||$598-1794 annually|
Allergy Shots Dosing
Allergy immunotherapy can be administered via two major routes: subcutaneous (SCIT) or sublingual (SLIT). Allergy shots are administered via the SCIT route. Essentially, the serum for these shots contains trace amounts of your allergen, and as the dose gradually increases over time, your body becomes desensitized to the allergen. This allows you to develop immunity over time. However, a drawback is that allergy shots often need years before immunity is achieved.
The process of building allergy immunity involves two main phases:
- Buildup phase: During the building phase, shots are given 1-3 times a week, and the dose of the allergen gradually increases with each injection. This phase typically lasts 3-6 months.
- Maintenance phase: The maintenance phase is more long-term. However, the dosing will gradually decline to about once a month during this phase. This phase typically will last at least 3-5 years.
It is important to note that improvements are slow and generally unnoticeable until the second year. Additionally, the dosing period can differ from person to person based on several factors. These factors include:
- Severity of the disease
- Adverse effects
- Patient preference
- Treatment convenience
Cost of Administration
Allergy shots can be self-administered by patients at home. As long as the patient is adequately trained with all the appropriate safety procedures, they can administer their shots without a fee. On average, allergy shot administration at a clinic can range from $10-30 per shot.
While talking allergy shots, you are still free to take your current allergy medications, such as over-the-counter antihistamines like Benadryl, Claritin, or Zyrtec. Hydrocortisone cream or ice can also be used to reduce swelling at the injection site.
The Pros and Cons of Allergy Shots
Allergy shots are not always necessary for every patient. Below are some advantages and disadvantages of allergy shots to help you decide if this treatment is right for you.
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Allergy shots can ultimately cure your allergies. Although the procedure is long, you will most likely need significantly less allergy medicine and will feel better in the long run after the treatment. These allergy shots can also be used as a preventative treatment for allergies in children over five years old. Allergy shots can also be an alternative for people who don’t tolerate oral allergy medications. While these injections might be more costly upfront, they have the potential to save costs in the long run.
In general, allergy shots are effective for the following conditions:
- Allergic rhinitis
- Seasonal allergies
- Indoor allergens
- Insect stings
Allergy shots are generally not effective for food-related allergies or skin-related allergic reactions such as hives.
Like all medication regimens, there are possible side effects to using allergy shots. Allergy shots are also more time-consuming than typical medication regimens. This time commitment is important to keep in mind when considering allergy shots.
There are a variety of possible side effects from allergy injections. Although life-threatening reactions such as anaphylaxis are rare, keeping these side effects in mind is important. Most serious reactions will occur within 30 minutes of your initial injection, so it is highly recommended that you remain in the clinic after the initial administration.
Some common local side effects include:
- Redness and warm skin at injection site
- Swelling or pain at injection site
Some serious, systemic reactions to keep in mind are:
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Sudden itching
Although these are rare side effects, If you experience any of these reactions, notify a medical team member immediately as these can result in anaphylaxis which can be deadly.
The time commitment for allergy shots can be especially demanding. Most regimens will have a regular schedule of 1-3 times per week in the first 1-2 years of your treatment. After the first two years, you will likely have to go every 3-4 weeks for the next 3-5 years. Additionally, you must stay in the clinic for 30 minutes after your shot, as previously mentioned, to avoid any serious adverse reactions. This regimen also requires meeting with your physician annually to monitor your progress appropriately.
Allergy Shot Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about allergy shots to help you better understand the treatment.
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Are allergy shots right for you?
If you find that you fall into one of the following categories of people, consider speaking with your primary care physician about trying allergy shots.
- Individuals with moderate to severe allergies
- Individuals with severe pet allergies
- Individuals with severe stinging insect allergies
- Individuals who can commit to a long treatment plan
- Individuals who can afford a long treatment plan
- Individuals who do not respond well to oral allergy medications
Who should not take allergy shots?
Allergy shots should not be used in patients who are currently taking beta-blockers. Patients with severe or uncontrolled asthma or cardiovascular disease should also not use allergy shots. It is important to note that allergy shots are recommended in patients with life-threatening insect allergies, even if they are on beta-blockers. Other populations such as pregnant people or elderly patients should exercise caution when using allergy shots. If you want to start taking allergy shots, make sure to consult with your doctor.
How do you prepare for an allergy shot?
Before your allergy shot appointment, be sure to avoid any strenuous exercise or physical labor. This is because blood flow will increase during exercise which can cause the allergens in the shot to spread faster. This might trigger your risk for other potentially serious reactions. Additionally, make sure to tell your primary care provider about any other medications or supplements that you take regularly.
What are the alternatives to allergy shots?
There are several other formulations for this type of immunotherapy. If you dislike injections, there are sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) options. Sublingual dosing includes both drops and tablets. Currently, only the tablets are approved by the FDA for certain specific allergies. These allergies include ragweed, timothy grass, and dust mites. More research is needed for this type of dosing but it is currently being investigated for the treatment of eczema and food allergies. Tablets are not FDA approved and are only used off-label.
Allergy shots can be an important option to consider for patients who have tried traditional oral allergy medications and have not seen effective results. Although the dosing period for allergy shots is long and can be costly, allergy shots have the potential to completely cure someone of their allergy.
If you or a family member are interested in getting a prescription for allergy shots, make sure to talk to your primary care physician to decide if this is the best option. For an average of $45 a month, Mira can provide you with the necessary health coverage to get an affordable in-person or virtual consultation with a doctor. Mira can also provide affordable prescriptions and urgent care services. Get your allergies in check and sign up for Mira today!
Sophie is a 2024 Pharm D. candidate studying pharmacy at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She has a passion for healthcare and writing and hopes to make meaningful contributions to healthcare transparency and accessibility. In her free time, she likes to take care of her houseplants, cook, and hang out with her cat.