Have you gotten your flu vaccine yet? Everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated but the Centers for Disease Control recommends it particularly for people with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma. Because of the greater risk of serious complications from the flu, it’s important that more people with asthma receive the flu shot this year.
One obstacle to vaccination has been egg allergies. The flu vaccine is manufactured with chicken eggs and contains trace amounts of the egg protein ovalbumin. The risk of exposure to this allergenic substance led the CDC to recommend that people with egg allergies seek out non-egg flu vaccines (which are more costly and can be difficult to find) or to have the vaccine administered under special conditions by an allergist.
But a recent study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology found that flu vaccines do not pose a risk to people allergic to eggs and that these precautions are not necessary. The authors analyzed data from 28 previous studies that included thousands of people with egg allergies, including hundreds whose allergies are severe. They concluded that people with egg allergies are at no greater risk of a reaction to the flu shot than people without them.
These findings are especially significant for parents of children with food allergies. While egg allergies are rare in adults, approximately 2% of children in the US are affected by them. Egg allergies should not be a reason to avoid vaccinating children, which the CDC advises for all kids after the age of six months.
This is not to say that allergic reactions to the flu shot cannot happen. Rather, the study concludes that there is no reason to suspect that people with egg allergies are any more likely than others to experience one. Anaphylactic reactions to the flu vaccine only occur in one out of a million cases and medical professionals administering the vaccine are trained to identify and treat them in the event of an emergency.
It’s still not too late to get vaccinated this flu season. It’s important that you take this step to protect yourself from the risk of respiratory infections, especially if you have asthma.
Kevin Arnold writes about allergies and asthma, travel and healthy living. For more tips and information, check out all of his posts at www.blog.pureroom.com.