Expert Health Articles

Egg Allergy and the Flu Shot: Cause for Alarm?

If you have egg allergy you may have been told to avoid flu shots or other vaccines due to concern that the vaccines may contain egg. Many vaccines are produced or grown in hen eggs. By harvesting vaccines from eggs, a theoretical risk presents itself. What if there is active egg protein in the final vaccine product? Multiple studies conclude that it is safe for people with life-threatening egg allergy to receive flu vaccines. The theoretical concern is not a real risk. However, the myth of egg allergy as a contraindication for receiving the flu shot persists in the public. A national allergy guideline update specific to this question was published in 2017 and included the following recommendations (Greenhawt, 2017 https://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(17)31187-0/pdf):

  1. Flu vaccines should be administered to those with any severity of egg allergy, just as they would to someone without egg allergy.
  2. No special precautions are necessary. Individuals with egg allergy receiving a flu vaccine should be shown the same general precautions as with the general population.
  3. It is not necessary or preferred to use flu vaccines manufactured without egg exposure over traditional flu vaccines grown in hen egg.

While these are not new guidelines or recommendations, they deserve repeating to ensure that egg allergic individuals receive the same care and influenza prevention treatment as the general population.

Amber Patterson, MD

ENT & Allergy Specialists of Northwest Ohio