Rapid allergen vaccination (RAV) is the updated term for what was previously called rush immunotherapy and rapid desensitization. RAV offers several advantages over traditional immunotherapy - that is, conventional allergen vaccination (CAV) - in terms offaster efficacy, better compliance, and cost-effectiveness. We used a 3-hour RAV protocol to treat 137 allergy patients. All patients were premedicated with either prednisone or prednisolone and an H1 antihistamine. Following the RAV procedure, all patients resumed a CAV schedule. Only six patients (4.4%) experienced a mild systemic reaction to RAV, and five (3.6%) experienced a mild systemic reaction to CAV 14 to 77 days later. All six patients who reacted to RAV quickly responded to treatment - in most cases, subcutaneous epinephrine and/or nebulized albuterol - and were sent home after a short period of observation. Compliance rates at 3, 6, and 12 months were 96.4, 94.2, and 75.9%, respectively, which is an improvement over rates previously reported for patients undergoing CAV therapy. We conclude that the 3-hour RAV protocol can be safely and successfully administered. Patients who undergo RAV are more compliant with their subsequent CAV regimen than are patients who do not undergo RAV because signs of clinical efficacy manifest almost immediately and because RAV is associated with substantially lower rates of systemic reactions. Moreover, RAV is associated with less morbidity and less expense. Our findings should encourage physicians who treat allergy patients to give further consideration to using RAV.
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