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Get the Facts: Egg Allergies & Flu Vaccines

Tis the season to get the flu vaccine, but what’s a parent to do if your child has an intolerance or allergy to the flu shot?

It’s true that the flu vaccine contains a very small amount of egg protein, but it is still recommended for all children aged six months and older. You may need to take precautions if your child has an egg allergy, but not necessarily avoid the vaccine altogether.

Allergy Safe Vaccination

Recent studies show that most people who are allergic to eggs can safely receive the flu vaccine under the care of a doctor. Those who normally have mild reactions to eggs, such as hives, can receive a normal vaccine without being skin tested for the vaccine first. After receiving the vaccine, your child should remain at the doctor’s office for a 30-minute observation period.

If your child has had a severe reaction to the vaccine or eggs, including breathing or heart problems, there are two options:

Two-Dose Option: An allergic child may receive the vaccine in two parts, where the first shot would contain only 10 percent of the full dose. Once given, your child would be observed for 30 minutes to see if any allergic symptoms develop. If none develop, then the rest of the vaccine would be given, followed by another 30-minute observation period. The shots can be given by your child’s pediatrician or allergist.

Desensitization: In cases where the two dose method doesn’t work, the vaccine is given in smaller amounts, usually four or five doses. This procedure should only be done in an allergist’s office.

Protecting Your Child Against Flu

The vaccine is the best way to protect against seasonal flu and potentially severe complications from the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 12,000 children are hospitalized and 100 die every year due to seasonal flu or related complications.

The shots are especially important for children who are younger than five and those who have long-term health conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart conditions because they are at higher risk for complications from the flu.

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