Patient Education

What are allergy shots?

Allergy immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is a form of long-term treatment for allergic disorders that decreases allergic symptoms for many people by modulating the immune system in a beneficial way. Allergy shots decrease sensitivity to allergens providing lasting relief of allergy symptoms. Specifically, allergy shots contain extracts of proteins that are extracted from the environment. Extract manufacturers, regulated by the FDA, carefully process and refine allergens, such as pollen, dust, animal dander or mold to produce a concentrated, purified liquid protein extract that can be injected under the skin. Allergy shots are prepared and delivered by Dr. Roth to match the allergic sensitivities found on skin testing.

How do allergy shots work?

Allergy shots work like a vaccine. Your body responds to injected amounts of a particular allergen, given in gradually increasing doses, by developing immunity or tolerance to the allergen.
There are two phases:

  • Build-up phase. This involves receiving injections with gradually increasing amounts of the allergens weekly. The length of this phase generally ranges from three to six months. The incremental increases of the allergen cause the immune system to become less sensitive to the substance, by causing production of "blocking" antibodies, which reduces the symptoms of allergy when the substances is encountered in the future. Immunotherapy also reduces inflammation of the allergic response.
  • Maintenance phase. This begins once the effective dose is reached. The effective maintenance dose depends on your level of allergen sensitivity and your response to the build-up phase. During the maintenance phase, there will be longer periods of time between treatments, ranging from two to four weeks. Maintenance treatment is continued for three to five years. Medications help to control allergic reactions but do not change how the body responds to exposures. By changing the body's responses to allergens, patients on allergy shots have a better quality of life.

How effective are allergy shots?

Allergy shots are very effective and decrease many symptoms of allergies. Allergy shots can prevent the development of new allergies, and in children can prevent the progression of allergic disease from allergic rhinitis to asthma. The effectiveness of allergy shots appears to be related to the length of the treatment program as well as the dose of the allergen. Many people experience lasting relief from allergy symptoms.

Are there any risks to allergy shots?

There are inherent risks to receiving allergy shots. A typical reaction to an allergy shot is redness, swelling or itching at the injection site. This can happen immediately or occasionally several hours after the injection. Anaphylaxis is a systemic reaction to an allergy shot and is very rare. If it does occur, immediate medical attention is required. Symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction can include swelling in the throat, wheezing, nausea or dizziness. Most serious reactions develop within 20 minutes of the allergy injection. This is why the recommendation is to wait for at least 20 minutes after you receive allergy shots.


Lisa Roth, MD
Director, Allergy & Immunology
Jamaica Hospital Medical Center
TJH Medical Services, PC
134-20 Jamaica Ave, 1st Floor
Jamaica, NY 11418
718-206-6742 phone
718-206-6905 fax


Pollen Forecast


  • When a local ENT first referred me to Dr. Roth several years ago, I was dependent upon Allegra pills and Nasacort nasal spray to function throughout the day -- and not comfortably. Now, with monthly visits to Dr. Roth for allergy shots, I no longer... View More..
    Adam from Long Beach, NY

  • My winter allergies had gotten so bad that I had to leave in the middle of a business meeting. I was at my wit’s end and finally called Dr. Roth. Since receiving Dr. Roth’s personalized treatment, I am free from suffering – not only do I no... View More..
    Joy from Oceanside, NY

  • I have been under the care of Dr. Lisa Roth for many years. Sadly, I have severe allergies to almost everything that a person breathes in. Luckily, because of Dr. Roth, I am able to enjoy a normal life including taking long walks outdoors – even... View More..
    Laurie from Lynbrook, NY

  • Several years ago, at the age of sixty, I was diagnosed with allergy induced asthma. At times, I would struggle for breath and experience intense wheezing in my chest. I then found Dr. Lisa Roth and after a thorough diagnosis, began receiving... View More..
    John from Long Beach, NY

  • Due to Dr. Roth’s professional care, it took only a few visits before I noticed a dramatic improvement in my allergy symptoms. Dr. Roth was very informative concerning my allergies and the progress made throughout my visits. As a professional, I... View More..
    Alan from Valley Stream, NY

  • The level of care offered by Dr. Roth is exceptional. Her concern and expertise is evident the moment you meet her. The migraine headaches I used to suffer during the spring pollen season are now just a memory. Dr. Roth’s office hours allow even... View More..
    Tom from Lynbrook, NY

  • When I came back from a trip abroad in 2011, my allergies became unbearable. I was constantly congested and coughing, my asthma would act up daily and I would get a sinus infection or a cold every month even though I was taking allergy medicine... View More..
    Kathryn from Lynbrook, NY