New Recommendations for the Flu Vaccine and Egg Allergies

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, six billion eggs are distributed nationwide every 30 days.

Eggs are one of seven of the most common food allergens in children, and about 1.5 percent of children are allergic to hen's eggs – although it is thought that at least two-thirds or more generally outgrow egg allergy by age 16.

Risks that may put you or your child for increased risk for egg or other food allergies are a family history of asthma, food allergy or other type of allergy such as eczema.

So why is this in the news? Well, a study presented at a recent ACAAI meeting in Boston described the interim findings from an ongoing two-year study seeking to evaluate the safety of giving a seasonal influenza vaccine to children with an egg allergy. Preliminary results suggest it is indeed safe for children with severe egg allergy to receive this extremely important vaccine, especially in those kids with asthma, to avoid complications of the flu.

The study’s findings are consistent with other studies over the past 12 years that seem to confirm even those children with severe egg allergy may receive the vaccine safely.

“The benefits of flu shots are well-established, and clearly outweigh the risks for children with egg allergy,” said study lead author and allergist Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, ACAAI member and assistant professor in the Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the University of Michigan.

He further stated that “expanding the population of children that receive flu shots will play an important role in decreasing influenza-associated hospitalization, and in promoting the overall health of our children.”

With flu season just around the corner, having an egg allergy may no longer be a good reason to not get the flu vaccine, according to new guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Individuals allergic to eggs should still continue to receive the flu vaccine from an experienced health care provider, who is familiar with reactions to vaccines, and a egg-sensitive individual is observed for a period of at least 30 minutes after administration.

Dr. Clifford W. Bassett is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Long Island College Hospital and on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine. He is the current chair for public education committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. No information in this blog is intended as medical advice to any reader or intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.