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Can I get a flu shot if I am allergic to egg whites?

In the past, adults who were allergic to eggs were advised against the flu vaccine. However, it is now considered safe for those with egg allergies to receive inactivated influenza vaccination that contains a killed strain of the virus.

In many flu vaccines, the trace amounts of egg protein are not enough to cause a reaction. However, in some flu vaccines, there is a risk for a potential allergic reaction. You should talk over your options with your doctor to be sure. In some cases, your allergist may be able to give you a specific test that can show if an allergic reaction will likely occur after the vaccination.

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

If you've ever had a severe allergic reaction to egg whites, or eggs in general, you should not get a flu shot. This is because the vaccine is made using viruses grown in chicken eggs. If you have a mild egg allergy, talk to your doctor. An allergy specialist may be able to give you a flu shot under carefully controlled conditions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children with a mild egg allergy can usually receive the flu vaccine at their pediatrician's office. Those with more severe allergies may still be able to safely receive the vaccine if supervised by a healthcare professional with experience dealing with egg allergies. Children are at risk of developing severe complications from the flu, so talk about vaccination with your pediatrician.

Dr. Diana K. Blythe, MD
Pediatrician

Even if you have an allergy to egg whites, you can probably still get the flu shot. For most people with an egg allergy, the risk of getting the flu is higher than the risk of having problems with the flu shot. Now if your allergy to egg whites is a severe one such as anaphylaxis which is a life-threatening allergic reaction, you should talk to your allergist before receiving the flu shot.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers these recommendations regarding flu vaccination for people with egg allergies:

  • If you have experienced only hives after exposure to eggs, you can receive any licensed and recommended flu vaccine that is otherwise appropriate for your age and health.
  • If you have symptoms other than hives after exposure to eggs, such as rapid swelling, respiratory distress, lightheadedness or recurrent vomiting, or you have needed epinephrine or another emergency medical intervention, you can get any licensed and recommended flu vaccine that is appropriate for your age and health, but the vaccine should be given in a medical setting and supervised by a health care provider who can recognize and manage severe allergic conditions. Appropriate settings include hospitals, clinics, health departments and doctors' offices. 
  • People with egg allergies no longer have to wait 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.