UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Pharmacology & Therapeutics

Title: Egg Allergy and Influenza Vaccine: No more contraindication

Keywords: egg, influenza, vaccine (PubMed Search)

Posted: 3/2/2012 by Bryan Hayes, PharmD (Emailed: 3/3/2012) (Updated: 3/4/2012)
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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.

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

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.

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.


Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule - United States, 2012. MMWR Weekly. February 3, 2-12 / 61(04);1-7.

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