Can your child with an egg allergy be vaccinated?

Does your child have an egg allergy? If so, you’re not alone because around 5 out of 100 kids with allergies have an allergy to eggs. 

Since some vaccines may contain egg proteins, does that mean that 5 out of 100 kids can’t be vaccinated? No, and let me tell you why. 

The three vaccines of concern by parents are the yellow fever vaccine, the influenza vaccine, and the MMR vaccine. 

The yellow fever vaccine is shown to be safe for people with an egg allergy; however, you probably never even need to worry about it. Your kid won’t be getting it unless you’re planning on traveling to an area where the mosquito-borne disease is prevalent. 

As far as the influenza vaccine goes, yes, some flu vaccines are made using eggs. However, the quantity of egg antigen (substance the body sees as foreign) is so tiny that even a person with a severe egg allergy will be fine to get the vaccine. And of course, there’s research to back this. 

(The studies are listed numerically below should you want to read more!)

Study 1 looked at the FluMist, the live but weakened form of the vaccine. They gave it to 115 kids with a severe egg allergy and 188 kids with asthma/wheezing. Neither group of children were more likely to react negatively to the vaccine; in fact, they found no egg-related reactions in the children when given the live vaccine. 

Study 2 came from the same group. They did an identical experiment but on a larger scale. Seven hundred seventy-nine children with an egg allergy (157 were severe) and 445 with asthma/wheezing all showed no reaction with the live vaccine. 

Several other research groups repeated this study many times with the same results. 

The third study followed this experiment but with the inactivated (killed) shot. The shot was given to children six months and over (as recommended for the flu shot) with an egg allergy. There were no significant vaccine reactions. 

These studies allow for the experts at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) and the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) to agree that patients with an egg allergy, no matter how severe it is, can get the flu vaccine. There is no greater risk than those who don’t have an allergy. 

They do, however, suggest that if you’re worried about your child with a severe egg allergy, to remain in the doctor’s office for around 30 minutes. That way, you’ll be in the best place should there be a very rare reaction to the vaccine. 

Moving on, I have had many parents voice their concerns for their children with an egg allergy getting the MMR vaccine. Concerns stem from the fact that the weakened versions of the measles and the mumps viruses are grown in chick embryo culture. The vaccine goes through extensive purification and therefore there are only trace quantities of egg proteins that are present in hens’ eggs.

In a study (labeled five below) by Freigang et al., the MMR vaccine was given to 500 children with an egg allergy. Children with an egg allergy tolerated the MMR vaccine well with little reaction.

The same and similar studies, performed with the MMR vaccine, show the same results. 

It’s recommended that if your child has a very severe egg allergy, there may need to be an MMR skin test performed. Studies show a low rate of reaction in skin tests.

The takeaway?

Based on scientific evidence, experts say if your child has an egg allergy, no matter how severe, it’s safe for them to get these vaccines. However, always discuss your concerns with your doctor.

When you get the all-clear from your doc, have your egg allergy children fully vaccinated to make sure they are as safe as possible from vaccine-preventable diseases! 

Resources: 

  1. Greenhawt M, Turner PJ, Kelso JM. Administration of influenza vaccines to egg allergic recipients: a practice parameter update 2017. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2018;120:49-52.
  2. Turner PJ, Southern J, Andrews NJ, Miller E, Erewyn-Lajeunesse M, et al. Safety of live attenuated influenza vaccine in atopic children with egg allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2015;136:376-81.
  3. Turner PJ, Southern J, Andrews NJ, Miller E, Erewyn-Lajeunesse M, et al. Safety of live attenuated influenza vaccine in young people with egg allergy: multicenter prospective cohort study. BMJ 2015;351:h6291.
  4. James JM, Zeiger RS, Lester MR, Fasano MB, Gern JE, et al. Safe administration of influenza vaccine to patients with egg allergy. J Pediatr 1998; 133(5):624-628.
  5. Freigang B, Jadavii TP, Freigang DW. Lack of adverse reactions to measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in egg-allergic children. Ann Allergy 1994;73(6):486-488.
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