Living With Food Allergies

Is the Flu Vaccine Safe for People With Egg Allergy?

Yes. If you have a current or past egg allergy, you can get the flu (influenza) vaccine, even if you have had severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to egg. The same is true for children.

The following organizations recommend getting the flu shot every year, even if you have an egg allergy:

  • Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI)
  • American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI)

You can get any flu vaccine, even if you have a history of mild or severe egg allergy. You can get the shot or nasal spray. You no longer need to be observed in a doctor’s office for 30 minutes after getting the vaccine if you have or had an egg allergy.

AAFA recommends the following:

  • Ages 6 months to 4 years should get the flu shot.
  • Ages 4 and older: If your asthma is under control with no symptoms, you can get the flu shot or the nasal spray vaccine.
  • Ages 4 and older: If you have recent asthma episodes or wheezing, get the flu shot.

Does the Flu Vaccine Contain Egg?

Most versions of the flu shot and nasal spray vaccines can contain a tiny amount of egg protein. But studies show that the amount is so small it is unlikely that you will have a severe allergic reactions to the vaccines if you have an egg allergy.

There are also two vaccines that are egg free:

The risk of complications from the flu are greater than the risk of reaction from the tiny amount of egg in the vaccine.

BOTTOM LINE: It is safe for ALL people with an egg allergy to receive a flu vaccine every year. This is true no matter how severe your egg allergy was in the past. This includes anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) to egg.

People with egg allergy can get the flu vaccine #FightFlu

 

What Are the Current Guidelines for the 2021-2022 Flu Season?

Flu viruses change from year to year. So the flu vaccines change every year. Also, the CDC updates its guidelines each year. Below are the current guidelines:

  • Everyone 6 month and older should get a flu vaccine every year.
  • All flu vaccines (the shot and nasal spray) are designed to protect against four different flu viruses. This is called quadrivalent [kwa-dreh-VAY-lent].
  • Flucelvax Quadrivalent is now approved for people 2 years and older.
  • You can get the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.

The CDC makes the following recommendations for people with an egg allergy who get the flu vaccine:1

  • 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 AAAAI and ACAAI state that the vaccine is safe to give in any setting. There is no special waiting time or other precautions.2

Why Is the Flu Vaccine Important?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious complications from the flu are possible, like pneumonia. It can also cause death in severe cases. The flu causes thousands of hospitalizations and deaths every year, including previously healthy children and adults. While the 2020-21 flu season was historically mild, this is not expected during the upcoming winter season.

It is possible to also get other illnesses such as COVID-19 or respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) at the same time as the flu and become very sick. Getting the flu vaccine can help reduce you or your child’s risk of severe illness from more than one respiratory infection.

Who Should Not Get a Flu Vaccine?

Talk to a board-certified allergist about the flu vaccine if your child has ever had a:

  • Life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of flu vaccine
  • 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 with an allergist.

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Flu vaccine handout

 

Medical Review October 2021 by David Stukus, MD.

References

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 22). Flu vaccine and people with egg allergies. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 14, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/egg-allergies.htm#recommendations.

2. Greenhawt, M., Turner, P. J., & Kelso, J. M. (2018). Administration of influenza vaccines to egg allergic recipients: A practice parameter update 2017. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 120(1), 49–52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anai.2017.10.020

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