Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Allergies Health Center

Font Size

Allergy Vaccine: 6-Shot Cure?

Study Shows Just 6 Weekly Vaccinations Gave Relief From Ragweed Allergy

Experimental Vaccine vs. Traditional Allergy Shots

Creticos and colleagues originally enrolled 25 people with ragweed allergy in their study. Half got the ragweed allergy vaccine -- one shot a week for six weeks, with gradually increasing amounts of ragweed allergen -- and half got fake injections.

Six shots sound like a lot -- unless you've ever taken allergy shots. These shots are simply tiny doses of whatever it is you are allergic to, given in weekly and then monthly doses over four or five years. The idea is to gradually train the immune system to tolerate the allergen. This treatment works. But it is very inconvenient and, while it's considered safe, still carries a risk of serious allergic reactions.

"Most people just can't deal with four or five years of shots -- and some stay on the treatment for six to 10 years," Creticos says. "The vaccine is a way to reach a markedly greater percentage of people whom we have not been able to reach due to fear of reactions."

Fifteen subjects, nine in the placebo group and six in the vaccine group, completed both years of the vaccine study.

Fewer Allergy Symptoms

After getting the shots, the patients who received the vaccine reported about 60% fewer allergy symptoms than those who got fake shots. At the peak of the second ragweed season, those who got the vaccine didn't need any antihistamines or decongestants.

"The results are very impressive in terms of the amount of relief of allergy symptoms patients got with just six injections, with no side effects -- and it lasted for two years," Broide says. "One needs to be realistic, however, and make sure this holds up in larger studies with more patients."

Creticos and colleagues currently are enrolling patients with ragweed-related asthmaasthma in a larger study. Eventually they hope to move to the kinds of clinical trial that lead to FDA approval.

"This is still several years into the future," Broide says. "Meanwhile, current immunotherapy is still very effective and safe. Patients should continue with their allergy injections."

While the current vaccine is formulated with ragweed allergen, Creticos says that it should work with other allergens. He expects that future studies will test vaccines against grass, dust mite, and cat allergiesallergies.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

man blowing nose
Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
Allergy capsule
Breathe easier with these products.
cat on couch
Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
Which ones affect you?

blowing nose
woman with sore throat
lone star tick
Woman blowing nose

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

cat lying on shelf
Allergy prick test
Man sneezing into tissue
Woman holding feather duster up to face, twitching