October 10, 2009

Egg Allergy and the Flu Shot

Several patients have called our office asking whether it is safe to receive the flu shot if they are egg allergic. Generally speaking, for most patients, the blunt answer is that it is safe.

The flu shot vaccine (both H1N1 and seasonal) are egg-based from which this concern arises. It also doesn't help that the pre-flu shot questionnaire specifically asks about egg allergy. Though egg-based, most of the egg protein is filtered out such that there are no egg contaminants. However, it is possible that some egg is present in a vaccine.

To play it safe, the absolute safest way for a patient with egg allergy to get the flu shot is via a few steps:

1) Get a test dose of the flu vaccine where a small amount (0.025cc typically) of the flu vaccine is administered sub-dermally.
2) Wait 10-20 minutes.
3) If there's no reaction (redness and swelling of the skin), get the shot properly into the muscle.
4) If there's a large wheal reaction, it's probably best not to get the flu shot or see an allergist to get desensitized prior to receiving the injection.

Not all practices may be familiar with these particular steps. If that's the case, request to take the flu vaccine to an allergy office (including ours), and have us administer it. (Please note that we do not provide egg desensitization.)

If you are only IgG allergic and not IgE allergic to egg, no need to worry. Get the flu shot.

For a more in depth discussion, click here to read a document prepared by the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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