Kids with egg allergies can safely receive the flu shot without fear of having a reaction, according to a new study out of the University of Michigan.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention has historically recommended the seasonal influenza vaccine not be given to children with egg allergies because the shot is grown in embryonated chicken eggs and contains ovalbumin, a major allergen. In 2011, the CDC modified that recommendation so that the caution was only warranted for those with severe egg allergies, after several studies suggested the shot posed no risk to those with a history of only mild allergic reactions.
But the new study, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, found that even children with severe egg allergies do not have allergic reactions after receiving the vaccine.
"This study shows these children, all of whom either had anaphylaxis or a severe allergic reaction from egg, can tolerate the vaccine,” said lead researcher Matthew Greenhawt, M.D., assistant professor of allergy and immunology at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. “That's important because we know it's crucial that children get a vaccine to avoid the flu, especially this year as we've seen such an increase in cases and severity. The benefits outweigh the risks."
Influenza A is responsible for 21,156 annual hospitalizations of children younger than five years, the new study noted. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recently announced that the flu vaccine is safe even in children with a history of a severe allergic reaction to eggs, citing the new UM study.
Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children, but by age 16 about 70 percent outgrow the allergy.
"Because of the prevalence of egg allergy in children is approximately 2 percent, we know there are a significant number of children who don't get the flu vaccine,” said Greenhawt.
“This study can put parents' fears to rest and hopefully help more kids avoid the flu," he says.
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