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My Child Is Allergic to Eggs. Can He Get the Flu Vaccine?

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Updated February 02, 2009

Question: My Child Is Allergic to Eggs. Can He Get the Flu Vaccine?
Answer: Generally speaking, no. The influenza vaccine is produced using chick embryos, and therefore may contain a small amount of egg protein. This egg protein may cause a severe allergic reaction in a person with an egg allergy. Since the amount of egg protein may vary from one year to the next, an egg-allergic person may tolerate the vaccine one year, but not the next.

Many children are diagnosed with egg allergy at a young age, although many will outgrow this allergy before they reach adolescence. Some children are told that they are “egg allergic” based on a positive allergy test to egg; although they can eat eggs without experiencing any symptoms. People who can eat eggs without experiencing symptoms of food allergies can safely receive the influenza vaccine despite the positive allergy test to egg.

If a person has a true allergic reaction from eating eggs, it is still possible for them to receive the influenza vaccine under the direct care of an experienced allergist. The vaccine is given in divided amounts over many hours, with close monitoring for an allergic reaction. This process is called a vaccine progressive challenge, which is frequently used in the military to ensure all possible personnel are vaccinated for public health reasons. The decision to perform a vaccine challenge is based on the person’s risk from not being vaccinated to the potential risk of having an allergic reaction to the vaccine.

Learn more about egg allergy and the MMR vaccine.

Source:

Moylett EH, Hanson IC. Mechanistic actions of the risks and adverse events associated with vaccine administration. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2004; 114:1010-20.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your physician for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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