Changing advice: Egg-allergic patients should get flu vaccine without delay

Changing advice: Egg-allergic patients should get flu vaccine without delay

New recommendations from a task force of allergy experts advise people with an egg allergy to get a flu vaccine, and not to delay with allergy testing before the vaccine. Patients had previously been cautioned about vaccination because of concerns about adverse reactions to egg protein in the vaccine.

"The new approach to patients with an egg allergy is that we now will administer the injectable, inactivated without any prior testing," said Mark Boguniewicz, MD, pediatric allergist-immunologist at National Jewish Health in Denver. "Any risk of a reaction to the small amounts of egg protein in vaccines is outweighed by risks posed by the ."

The new practice parameters, published in July 2012, were developed through a joint effort of the American Academy of Allergy, & Immunology, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, and the Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Boguniewicz also emphasized that it is not too late to get a vaccine this season. The current 2012-2013 flu season has gotten off to a strong start, with serious cases and some deaths reported around the country including in Colorado.

While the average flu season generally begins in December, it does not peak until February and continues into March. Each season has its own profile, and physicians at National Jewish Health are generally offering the vaccine to all their patients who have not yet gotten one, and will do so until infectious disease experts advise them not to.

"I give vaccinations to egg allergic patients almost every day," said Boguniewicz. "Our experience at National Jewish Health is that flu vaccines can be safely administered even to patients with a history of systemic, anaphylactic reactions."

Flu vaccines are manufactured by first growing the virus in chicken eggs or cell cultures made from them. As a result, there is some egg protein in all vaccines, which has raised concerns about in patients with .

Previous recommendations from this , published in 2009, recommended a more involved and cautionary procedure, involving allergy skin tests and divided doses. The new guidelines offer a more streamlined procedure, intended to protect more egg-allergic patients from the flu. Skin testing is no longer recommended prior to vaccination, and neither is a dose divided into two smaller fractions.

Patients with a history of allergic reactions to eggs are advised to get an injectable inactivated virus vaccine, rather than the nasal vaccine containing a weakened, but live virus. Patients should get the only at facilities experienced and equipped to recognize and treat an anaphylactic reactions. Those patients are also advised to remain at the facility for 30 minutes to be observed for possible allergic reactions.

"We have found flu vaccines to be safe in the overwhelming majority of our egg-allergic patients," said Dr. Boguniewicz. There does, however, remain a small chance of a severe reaction. "I tell my patients that since it is unpredictable, let's do it in a safe environment."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers evaluating food allergy treatment

Apr 17, 2008

Researchers at National Jewish Medical and Research Center are conducting trials to evaluate a method to prevent allergic reactions to food. They are feeding peanut- and egg-allergic people increasing doses of an investigational ...

No Excuses: Flu vaccination myths addressed

Oct 12, 2012

Flu season is here. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year five to 20 percent of Americans get the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized due to flu-related complications. Flu season ...

Recommended for you

Could trophoblasts be the immune cells of pregnancy?

Dec 18, 2014

Trophoblasts, cells that form an outer layer around a fertilized egg and develop into the major part of the placenta, have now been shown to respond to inflammatory danger signals, researchers from Norwegian University of ...

Moms of food-allergic kids need dietician's support

Dec 18, 2014

Discovering your child has a severe food allergy can be a terrible shock. Even more stressful can be determining what foods your child can and cannot eat, and constructing a new diet which might eliminate entire categories ...

Multiple allergic reactions traced to single protein

Dec 17, 2014

Johns Hopkins and University of Alberta researchers have identified a single protein as the root of painful and dangerous allergic reactions to a range of medications and other substances. If a new drug can ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.