With flu season just around the corner comes the very common question: “Can I get a flu shot if I am allergic to eggs?” Most types of influenza vaccine contain a very small amount of egg protein causing people to second guess the safety of flu shots if they are allergic to eggs. Contrary to what most think, research has shown that the administration of the flu vaccine is safe for those with egg allergies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests avoiding flu shots only if you have had a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine itself. If you’ve had a mild or severe allergic reaction to eggs, the CDC advises the following:
- If eggs cause only hives you can safely get the flu vaccine appropriate for your age and health status anywhere.
- If eggs cause swelling, trouble breathing, lightheadedness, recurrent vomiting, or if you’ve had to use an emergency intervention (like your Epi-Pen®), you can get a flu shot, but it must be in a medical setting supervised by a provider who can recognize and manage severe allergic reactions.
If you’ve had a reaction to eggs in the past, talk to your doctor. They may choose to give you the vaccine in their office or send you to an allergist.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, a large number of research studies published over the last several years have proved that thousands of egg-allergic children, including those with a severe life-threatening reaction to eating eggs, have received injectable influenza vaccine as a single dose without a reaction. The flu is responsible for the hospitalization of more than 21,100 children under the age of five annually, yet the CDC says nowhere near enough children are vaccinated every year. According to their statistics, only 55 percent of children ages 5 to 17 get the vaccination.
For more information, or to get your flu shot in our office, speak with a medical assistant during your next office or allergy shot visit.