It's that time again when the flu makes its unwelcome return. Although the flu shot is the answer to prevent this illness, will it only make matters worse if you have an egg allergy?

In the winter of 2010, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone get vaccinated against several common strains of the influenza virus. However, there is growing concern over the small amounts of the egg protein found in vaccines since they are grown in chicken eggs. The good news is that according to scientists, most people with egg allergies won't have a reaction to the flu shot. Several recent studies have confirmed that the amount of egg protein contained in the vaccines is so small that it isn't likely to cause any serious side effects.

Researchers from the University of Michigan reviewed the records of 135 children with egg protein allergies and found that none of them had any systemic effects from their shots. These findings were reported at the annual meeting of American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in the winter of 2010. The researchers also discovered that only seven of the participants had any symptoms after their vaccines, and these were all quite mild including hives, erythema (a type of red skin rash), eczema, and diarrhea. While these results focus on children since they are the ones most likely to have egg protein allergies, they can apply to adults, too.

What it Means for You

Regardless of egg allergies, it's probably safe to get the flu shot. However, it's always best to talk to your doctor first. If he's concerned that you could be at high risk for any side effects, he may send you to an allergist for testing to determine the best way to handle flu shot allergies. It's also possible to have a reaction to a flu shot that isn't caused by egg proteins, so only the experts can determine whether the shot could pose serious danger for you. When in doubt, it's always best to have the shot done in the allergist's office, where you can be closely monitored afterward in case you have a reaction.

Take Care

If you decide to skip the flu shot this year, be vigilant to avoid germs. You should stay out of crowded places and steer clear of people who are coughing and sneezing. And be sure to wash your hands often and thoroughly.

Keep in mind that if despite your best efforts, you do end up coming down with the flu, your doctor may be able to prescribe a flu medication to help lessen the severity of the illness and help you feel better soon.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)