All children should have flu shots, even if they have an egg allergy, and it's now safe to get them without special precautions. This finding is from the latest update on the safety of the flu vaccine for allergic patients, published in the October issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the official journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
The current recommendation from the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is to observe children allergic to eggs for 30 minutes after a flu shot. Also to have the shot under the care of a primary care provider, if the reaction to eating eggs is only hives, or an allergist, if the reaction to eating eggs is more serious.
However, "In a large number of research studies published over the last several years, thousands of egg allergic children, including those with a severe life-threatening reaction to eating eggs, have received injectable influenza vaccine (IIV) as a single dose without a reaction" said allergist John Kelso, MD, fellow of the ACAAI.
This update, endorsed by the AAAAI/ACAAI Joint Task Force on Practice Parameters, concludes that based upon the available data, "Special precautions regarding medical setting and waiting periods after administration of IIV to egg-allergic recipients beyond those recommended for any vaccine are not warranted. For IIV, language that describes egg-allergic recipients as being at increased risk compared with non-egg-allergic recipients or requiring special precautions should be removed from guidelines and product labeling."
"The benefits of the flu vaccination far outweigh any risk," said Dr. Kelso. "As with any vaccine, all personnel and facilities administering flu shots should have procedures in place for the rare instance of anaphylaxis, a severe life-threatening allergic reaction. If you have questions or concerns, contact your allergist."
Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children. By age 16, about 70 percent of children outgrow their egg allergy. Most allergic reactions to egg involve the skin. In fact, egg allergy is the most common food allergy in babies and young children with eczema.
Further, the flu is responsible for the hospitalization of more than 21,100 children under the age of five annually, yet only two thirds of children receive the vaccination each year. Some go unvaccinated because of egg allergy.
ACAAI also advises the more than 25.7 million Americans with asthma to receive the flu vaccination. Because the flu and asthma are both respiratory conditions, asthmatics may experience more frequent and severe asthma attacks while they have the flu.