Allergic to eggs? You can now safely get the flu shot, experts say

Dec 19, 2017

According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone ages 6 months or older should receive a flu vaccine each year.

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But people with severe egg allergies haven’t always been able to easily do so — until now.

Most administered vaccinations are manufactured using chicken eggs and they contain small amounts of egg proteins, including the protein ovalbumin. That’s why folks with egg allergies were previously advised to explore egg-free flu vaccination options or receive the vaccination with special precautions.

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But a new paper published Tuesday in the journal, “Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology,” found the flu shot is safe and recommended for people with egg allergies.


"When someone gets a flu shot, health care providers often ask if they are allergic to eggs," allergist and lead author Matthew Greenhawt, said in a news release. "We want health care providers and people with egg allergy to know there is no need to ask this question anymore, and no need to take any special precautions. The overwhelming evidence since 2011 has shown that a flu shot poses no greater risk to those with egg allergy than those without."

• According to the new findings, those with egg allergies no longer need to:

- See an allergy specialist for the flu shot

- Get special flu shots that don't contain traces of egg

- Get longer-than-normal observation periods after the shot

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One of the primary concerns with vaccines in general is the risk of having a severe allergic reaction, which can happen with any vaccine at a rate of about one per million, no matter the vaccine or allergy, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Egg allergies are rare among adults, but affect 2 percent of American children. And young children are particularly vulnerable to the flu. 

"There are hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and tens of thousands of deaths in the United States every year because of the flu, most of which could be prevented with a flu shot," allergist and co-author of the study, John Kelso, said.

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The bottom line: Vaccines that are age-appropriate can be used for anyone, whether or not they have egg allergies.

The recommendations published Tuesday are consistent with the CDC’s and with the American Academy of Pediatrics’.

» Read the full study at annallergy.org.