The flu vaccine
This vaccine is prepared on hen’s eggs and may contain tiny amounts of egg protein. Recent research suggests that flu vaccines present a very low risk of anaphylaxis for people with egg allergy even when the allergy is severe (Greenhawt et al., 2012). In our view, people who have suffered severe reactions to egg (such as breathing difficulties or collapse) should have their case assessed by an allergy specialist before having the flu vaccine. This also applies to anyone with egg allergy whose asthma is difficult to control. In some cases it may be decided that the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh the risk of a reaction. In these cases either a ‘no-egg’ or ‘low-egg’ vaccine can be given and this is usually tolerated.
Recently a new flu vaccine has been introduced for children which is not injected but sprayed into the nose (Live attenuated influenza vaccine – LAIV). This is the recommended vaccine for the childhood flu programme. While this also contains minute quantities of egg protein, research has shown that it can be safely administered to children with egg allergy (Turner et al., 2015). However Public Health England (an agency of the Department of Health) has advised that children with a history of severe anaphylaxis to egg that has required intensive care should be referred to specialists for immunisation in hospital (Public Health England, 2015). Egg-allergic children with asthma can receive LAIV if their asthma is well-controlled.
To read the vaccine update from Public Health England please click here.