The flu is responsible for the hospitalization of more than 21,100 children under the age of 5 annually. Yet according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), up to 2 percent of children may not be receiving the vaccination this year.
The reason? The flu shot has been historically associated with severe side effects in individuals with egg allergy. But ACAAI allergists have found that administration is safe even in children with a history of a severe allergic reaction to eggs.
“The influenza vaccine is grown in chicken eggs, therefore it contains trace amounts of egg allergen,” says allergist James Sublett, chair of the ACAAI Public Relations Committee. “It has been long advised that children and adults with an egg allergy do not receive the vaccination, however, we now know administration is safe. Children and adults should be vaccinated, especially when the flu season is severe, as it is this year.”
A study published in the December 2012 issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, ACAAI’s scientific journal, showed that flu vaccinations contain such a low amount of egg protein that it won’t cause children to have an allergic reaction.
“The benefits of the flu vaccination far outweigh the risks,” says Sublett. “The best precaution for children that have experienced anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, after ingesting eggs in the past is to receive the vaccination from an allergist.”
Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children. By age 16, about 70 percent of children outgrow their egg allergy. Most allergic reactions to egg involve the skin. In fact, egg allergy is the most common food allergy in babies and young children with eczema.
ACAAI also advises the more than 25.7 million Americans with asthma to receive the flu vaccination. Because the flu and asthma are both respiratory conditions, asthmatics may experience more frequent and severe asthma attacks while they have the flu.
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)