Each fall, many egg-allergic patients wonder whether they should receive the flu shot. Unfortunately, the same genetic predisposition that leads to food allergy may also lead to allergic asthma–a condition that is associated with increased risk for adverse outcomes due to influenza infection.
Egg allergy can be diagnosed by skin testing, in vitro (blood) testing, or a combination of the two. Testing should be considered anytime an individual has allergic symptoms (gastrointestinal, skin, or respiratory) that correlate with egg ingestion. Select individuals may test positive to egg but may in fact receive the vaccination if clinically indicated. This should occur in the context of consultation with an allergist, and may require additional testing to the influenza vaccine.
Regarding MMR vaccine and egg allergy…
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology have recommended that the MMR vaccine can be appropriately administered to egg allergic individuals without testing. Although this vaccine is cultured on hen egg fibroblasts, the amount of actual hen’s egg protein in the vaccine is negligible. Still, some parents of egg-allergic children wish to proceed with testing prior to vaccination as a measure of reassurance.
Kevin Parks MD