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Flu season is upon us Americans (and people of the northern hemisphere) once again. The CDC recommends an influenza vaccine by the end of October to be protected this particularly bad flu season.
The Affordable Care Act has increased the number of Americans with health insurance, and for those who have insurance, the shot is FREE at your doctor’s office and most pharmacies.
For those who don’t have insurance? You have options!
If you or your child is under 19 and you’re without insurance, you might qualify for the Vaccines for Children Program. They provide free childhood vaccines for children, including the flu shot.
Contact your local health department and find out if they offer free or low-cost flu shots. My children’s doctors office, which is one of our county offices, keeps health department shots in stock there for just that purpose. It’s worth a web search or a phone call to find out which local offices have these free shots to offer. You will likely find all childhood vaccines are free to your children if you are in need.
If you go to a pharmacy such as CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Target, a grocery store (with a pharmacy), or big box store you’re likely to find the shot is free with insurance. They may offer low-cost vaccines for those without insurance. Sometimes they even provide a gift card when you pick their store to get your flu vaccine! Bonus!
Your doctor, as well as urgent care centers, offer low-cost flu vaccines, and they will most likely be free with insurance.
Lots of employers and schools offer free shots to their employees/students, so always check there first!
No excuses, folks! You have options, and this year may be particularly bad and long. The flu can be deadly, and if you catch it, you will need to stay home and lose hours at work or school.
The flu vaccine is important to your health and the health of others around you!
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.
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
It’s flu season again. And you have a decision to make. Should you get the flu vaccine this year?
Before you get started educating yourself on the influenza vaccine (and I applaud you for doing so), you may want to read the previous two articles in this flu education series:
- So many people are confused about what influenza really is because the word “flu” is often misused and confused for various other sicknesses going on in the body. To familiarize yourself with the true flu symptoms and to understand why you should get vaccinated, please read: What is influenza, “the flu?”
- Understanding a little more about how the influenza virus is constructed and how it mutates is also important in grasping why we all need to get the flu shot every year. I think you’ll be interested in reading more about the virus that causes the flu and learning: Why do we keep getting the flu over and over again?
Now that you’ve become flu savvy and have decided you are ready to make the choice to look into getting the vaccine, it’s important to know all you can before deciding which vaccine may be best for you and your loved ones.