Living With Food Allergies

Is the Flu Vaccine Safe for People With Egg Allergy?

Most versions of the flu vaccine can contain a tiny amount of egg protein. So can you still get the flu vaccine if you are allergic to eggs?

Yes. Studies show that an egg allergy is no long a reason to avoid the flu vaccine. These studies looked at people with different types of reactions to egg and found a low chance of reaction to the flu shot.

During the past few years, the following organizations updated their recommendations on the flu vaccine and egg allergy:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
  • The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) 
  • The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI)  
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
BOTTOM LINE: It is safe for ALL people with an egg allergy to receive an annual flu shot. This is true no matter how severe your egg allergy was in the past. This includes anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) to egg.

What Are the Current Guidelines?

The CDC updated its guidelines in September 2016. They recommend:

  • Anyone who has only hives from egg can receive any licensed and recommended flu vaccine for their age and health status.
  • Anyone who has had a reaction to egg other than hives should get the flu shot in a medical facility from a health care provider who can recognize and treat a severe allergic reaction.
  • Anyone who has had a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine in the past should not get the flu vaccine.
  • The CDC does not recommend the nasal spray form of the flu vaccine for anyone for the 2017-2018 flu season.
     

The AAAAI and ACAAI 2013 Practice Parameters state that the vaccine is safe to give in any setting. There is no special waiting time or other precautions. But the setting must have procedures in place to treat anaphylaxis.

Why Is the Flu Vaccine Important?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. It can also cause death in severe cases.

Yet many don’t get the flu vaccine because they have an egg allergy. But the risks of complications from the flu are greater than the risk of reaction from the tiny amount of egg in the vaccine.

Talk to a board-certified allergist about the flu vaccine if you have ever had:

  • a life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of flu vaccine
  • a severe allergy to any part of a flu vaccine
     

If you or your child has an egg allergy and you are still concerned about getting the flu shot, talk to an allergist.

If you would like to learn more about the history of flu vaccine guidelines for those with an egg allergy, see our 2014 Update of Egg Allergy and the Flu Vaccine.