Have you been avoiding the flu shot because of an egg allergy and risk of an allergic reaction? Recent studies suggested that a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine is rare. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices changed their guidelines on egg allergies and the flu vaccination for the 2016-2017 flu season. Here is your quick guide to the changes and how they may impact you.
What hasn’t changed:
- Most flu shots and nasal spray flu vaccine still contain a small amount of egg proteins.
What has changed:
- Studies have examined the use of the nasal spray and shot in both patients with and without egg allergies. The studies found that severe allergic reactions are unlikely.
- People with a hives-only allergy to eggs can receive the flu vaccine. In other words, if you have only experienced hives from a history of egg allergy, the change means you are now encouraged to get an age-appropriate flu vaccine.
- People who have had other types of reactions to egg (other symptoms besides hives), or who have needed epinephrine or emergency intervention, can proceed with caution. They may receive a recommended flu vaccine appropriate for their age and health status, but it should be given in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting. If you’ve had these types of allergic reactions from eggs, a health care provider who can recognize and manage severe allergic conditions should supervise you after you get the vaccine.
- Those who have previously had a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine still should not get it again.
Each year millions of us get the flu; thousands are hospitalized because of it. The single most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to get the flu shot. Because of the new recommendations for people with egg allergies, even more people can be protected from the virus this flu season. But even though the recommendations have changed, you should always partner with your doctor to decide on the best option based on your health history.
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: