Can someone with egg allergy get a flu shot?
Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies among children in the US and is second only to milk allergy. It affects about 1.3% of all children and 0.2% of all adults in the US. Because the influenza vaccine contains a small amount of egg protein, people with egg allergy were typically told to avoid it. This has left patients and families with egg allergy with questions about safety of flu shots.
So, can someone with egg allergy get a flu shot? The short answer is, yes! A skin test may be needed to see if you're truly allergic to eggs. A nurse or doctor will scratch a tiny amount of egg protein on your skin and watch to see if there is a reaction. This can help diagnose the allergy as well as give insight on how severe the allergy is.
Even if you test positive, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), flu vaccines can be safely given. Testing can help determine whether you should get your flu shot in your primary care provider's office or an allergist's office (in case of any reaction). Your provider may want you to wait 30 minutes before leaving, to watch for any reaction. In certain cases, your allergist may determine you should get egg-free vaccine.
1.31 out of one million people experience a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine and their anaphylaxis was most often caused by an allergy to one of the other vaccine components, not to the egg. Your risk of getting the flu (which can lead to illness, hospitalization and even death) outweighs your risk of an allergic reaction to the traces of egg in the vaccine.
Egg allergy should not be a reason to avoid getting an FDA approved flu vaccine each year. Talk to your provider about your individual history and possible allergy testing.
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