What Is Allergen Immunotherapy?

Allergen immunotherapy changes the way your immune system responds to allergens.

It involves the regular and gradual administration of your trigger allergen to build up tolerance over time. Allergen Immunotherapy is delivered via injection (allergy shots) or tablets. This treatment decreases some cells, chemicals and antibodies in your system that cause your allergy symptoms and increases others that improve health, which ultimately means you will no longer react to your trigger allergen.

The short-term goal of allergen immunotherapy is to control symptoms. The long-term goals of allergen immunotherapy are to:

•  Lower the risk of symptoms in the nose, eyes, sinuses and lungs.

•  May lessen the risk of sinus, eye and ear infections.

•  Reduce the likelihood of developing asthma, or, if you already have asthma, reduce the likelihood of it getting worse over time.

What’s Involved?

Allergy Shots

Allergy Tablets

How is it administered?Injected in the arm. Afterwards, you’ll wait 30 minutes in your doctor’s office.Tablet is placed under the tongue. The first dose is given in your doctor’s office.
When and how long do I take it?All tree pollens, grass pollens, weed pollens (including ragweed), mold spores, animal dander (cat, dog, etc.), and house dust mites are available for treatment.After the first dose in the doctor’s office, the tablet is given at home daily.
Which allergens are covered?All grass pollens, tree pollens, weed pollens, mold spores, animal dander (cat, dog, etc.), and house dust mites are available for treatment.GRASTEK® and ORALAIR® for grass pollens, such as Timothy; taken before and during grass pollen season. GRASTEK® can also be taken year-round for 3 years.

RAGWITEK® for ragweed; taken before and during plant-growing season.

ACARIZAX™ for house dust mite allergy is given year-round.
When will I experience improvement?Most patients see significant benefit within 1 to 3 years.
For GRASTEK®, ORALAIR® and RAGWITEK® onset of improvement occurs during the first pollen season.

For ACARIZAX™ onset of improvement is 8 to 14 weeks.

What’s Are the Medical Benefits of Allergen Immunotherapy?


Allergy Shots

Allergy Tablets

Reduces allergy symptoms✔︎✔︎
Reduces need for allergy medications✔︎✔︎
Improves quality of life✔︎✔︎
Decrease the chance or worsening of asthma✔︎✔︎
Decreases the chance of new allergies✔︎✔︎
Doctor’s office administration of medication✔︎
At home medication administration✔︎
Ongoing clinical benefit after treatmentAt least 3 years after treatment2 years after treatment

What Are the Side Effects of Allergen Immunotherapy?

Side Effect

Allergy Shots

Allergy Tablets

Site reactions (red, raised, swollen, itchy)✔︎✔︎
Severe allergic reactionsVery rare:
1 in 2.5 million
Extremely rare:
1 in 1 billion

What Does Allergen Immunotherapy Cost?

Allergy Shots
Usually covered through private or government insurance plans. There may be a co-pay. Check with your provider.

Allergy Tablets
Usually covered through private or government insurance plans. There may be a co-pay. Check with your provider.

Are you READY?

To make sure you understand the allergen immunotherapy decision you and your doctor have reached, make sure you are READY:

Risk-benefit: Are you clear about the benefits and risk of each allergen immunotherapy option?

Encouragement: Do you have enough support and advice to make a choice between the two allergen immunotherapy options?

Assuredness: Are you absolutely sure allergen immunotherapy is the best choice for you?

Duration: Is the schedule and duration of allergen immunotherapy clear to you?

Yes: If you answer “no” to one or more of these READY questions, ask your allergist for more information.


Working together using this tool, you and your doctor should have reached a decision about whether you should proceed with allergen immunotherapy and which option suits you best.

Please be sure to express any additional questions or concerns you have with your allergist before you agree on a final treatment option.

Finally, click on the button below to download a copy of all your results to the decision-making tool questionnaire.