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Updated Recommendations on Influenza Vaccine and People with Egg Allergy

photo of a nurse giving a girl an vaccine injection
Credit: iStock Photo
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that people with egg allergy receive the seasonal influenza vaccine, especially if they only have had mild egg-allergic reactions such as hives.

The seasonal influenza vaccine is produced in chicken eggs. Ovalbumin, an egg protein, is often listed as a component of the purified vaccine on most drug-package inserts. The concentration of ovalbumin indicates the potential egg-allergen content of a vaccine. Read more about food allergy.

Earlier ACIP guidelines recommended against giving the influenza vaccine to people with egg allergy, including those with a history of mild symptoms.

photo of eggs in a nest
Credit: iStock Photo
The 2010 Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy: Report of the NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel supported ACIP's earlier recommendations. However, the guidelines also commented on several studies showing that influenza vaccine containing inactivated, or killed, virus is safe to give to people with egg allergy, especially those with a history of mild allergic reactions. Read more about the food allergy guidelines.

Influenza vaccines are now made with much lower ovalbumin concentrations than in the past; therefore, the level of potential egg protein allergens in a single dose of vaccine is extremely low. Read more about vaccines.

The following are ACIP recommendations for the 2011 to 2012 influenza season:

  • Inactivated influenza vaccine (seasonal flu shot) is safe to give to people whose history of allergic reactions to egg has been limited to hives.
  • People with more severe allergic reactions to egg may receive the seasonal flu shot, but the vaccine must be given by a healthcare professional familiar with the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction to egg and who has the ability to treat a severe reaction if one occurs.
  • These recommendations do not apply to the nasal spray form of the vaccine, which contains live, but weakened, influenza virus.

Visit the ACIP website to read more about the updated recommendations.

Visit the NIAID Influenza Vaccine page for more information about the seasonal flu vaccine.

Last Updated August 26, 2011

Last Reviewed August 26, 2011