Children with egg allergy are not at any additional risk of having a reaction when given the flu vaccine even though the vaccine may contain some amount of egg protein. Fortunately, the latest research shows that even in individuals with confirmed egg allergy, flu vaccines may be administered without any special precautions. Most reactions to flu vaccines are not due to egg-allergy.
Flu shots are recommended by the CDC for all people, but especially children 6 months and older. Many parents, especially those whose younger children have a confirmed egg allergy, have not had their children get flu shots due to the possibility of an allergic reaction to the egg protein components in most flu vaccines.
New research now suggests that the risk of an allergic reaction to a flu shot due to egg sensitivity is much less than previously thought. This means that almost everybody can receive a flu vaccine with little chance of an egg related allergic reaction. There are some precautions, however.
The current recommendation from the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is to observe children allergic to eggs for 30 minutes after a flu shot. They do recommend that an egg allergic child have the shot under the care of a primary care provider, if the reaction to eating eggs is only hives, or an allergist, if the reaction to eating eggs is more serious.
However, "In a large number of research studies published over the last several years, thousands of egg allergic children, including those with a severe life-threatening reaction to eating eggs, have received injectable influenza vaccine (IIV) as a single dose without a reaction" said allergist John Kelso, MD, fellow of the ACAAI.
This update, endorsed by the AAAAI/ACAAI Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters, concludes that based upon the available data, "Special precautions regarding medical setting and waiting periods after administration of IIV to egg-allergic recipients beyond those recommended for any vaccine are not warranted.
Egg allergies are among the more common ones in children. Studies show that about 70 percent of individuals outgrow egg allergy symptoms by age 16. Most allergic reactions to egg involve the skin. Egg allergy is the most common food allergy in babies and young children with eczema. A smaller percentage of people have more severe reactions that may require medical intervention.
The flu is responsible for the hospitalization of more than 21,100 children under the age of five annually, yet only two thirds of children receive the vaccination each year. With new research results pointing toward flu vaccine safety for most children, benefits of protection against catching the flu outweigh the risk of allergic reaction.
"The benefits of the flu vaccination far outweigh any risk," said Dr. Kelso. "As with any vaccine, all personnel and facilities administering flu shots should have procedures in place for the rare instance of anaphylaxis, a severe life-threatening allergic reaction. If you have questions or concerns, contact your allergist."
Most pediatrician and doctor offices have flu vaccine supplies now and one can make an appointment for a shot with a phone call. Many doctors are also having vaccine clinics on designated days. Shots are available for a low cost at most pharmacies of major drug chains. But these shots may not be covered by health insurance.
Anyone whose child has a known egg allergy is probably best off receiving the flu shoot at his or her doctor’s office where medical intervention is available if a child does react to the vaccine.
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