Allergy vaccines (also called allergen immunotherapy) WORK REALLY WELL – but you’ve got to have five things just right – the right disease the right allergy the right vaccine the right reason the right precautions Let’s talk about about these five things.
The right disease means hay fever or nose/sinus conditions or asthma caused by airborne allergies such as dust mite, pollens, moulds, or certain animals
The right allergy means allergy caused by airborne allergens such as dust mite, pollens, moulds, or certain animals. Food allergy is NOT treated by allergy injections. There is no evidence that so-called allergy to “bacteria” or “coryza” can be effectively treated by allergy injections.
The right vaccines means that they were scientifically assessed in randomized controlled trials to be safe and effective.
The right reason means that drugs and medicines haven’t worked, are causing side-effects, or are too expensive. In addition, attempts to avoid the allergy have failed. Also, the allergies are causing significant (not trivial) symptoms.
The right precautions means that you have been assessed by a doctor who is trained and skilled in the use of allergy vaccines, and that the vaccine is supervised by a doctor with experience in managing this form of treatment. The right precautions also means that there are no contra-indications to this form of treatment (in other words, you have been checked to make sure that there is no reason why you should not have them). In particular, if you have asthma, then it should be controlled before and during administration of the vaccine (see the information sheet on controlling asthma).
Whew! After all this, are they worth the trouble? They certainly are – after 6 to 9 months of treatment, most people lose most of their allergy. If the treatment then continues for a total of 3 years, then after ceasing, the improvement can last for up to 10-15 years. Scientific studies demonstrate that allergen immunotherapy reduces medication use substantially. The vaccines can be given either as injections, or as an oral vaccine called sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). The oral vaccine is adminstered at home as drops under the tongue. There are many scientific studies in children and adults that show it works. Our clinic favours the oral vaccine for 95% of people. This oral treatment is called SUBLINGUAL IMMUNOTHERAPY (often shortened to SLIT). Currently (July 2011) there are two European manufacturers of SLIT that can supply their products to Australia.