Thursday, September 1, 2011

Allergic to Eggs? It's OK to Get a Flu Shot

From Medscape Internal Medicine > Medicine Matters Sandra A. Fryhofer, MD Posted: 08/24/2011 Egg-allergic patients can now get flu shots. Here is why it matters. Twenty percent of the US population comes down with influenza every year. So every year people should be vaccinated against it. But until now patients with egg allergy couldn't be vaccinated because chicken eggs are used in making vaccine, and there were theoretical concerns that traces of egg protein could trigger a serious allergic reaction. But the data indicate differently.At least 17 studies of more than 2600 egg-allergic patients showed no serious reactions, including respiratory distress and hypotension. The only reactions were minor, such as hives and mild wheezing. The likeliest reason for this surprising lack of reaction is the tiny amount of leftover egg protein in the vaccine. There is also good news for the healthcare professional who administers flu vaccines. No skin tests are needed. The results aren't predictive, and there is no need to divide the dose. Single-dose studies support giving the entire vaccine dose at one time. There are some special caveats. Egg-allergic patients must get the inactivated flu shot because this is what has been used in studies. They cannot get the nasal flu vaccine. Anyone giving vaccinations should be familiar with egg allergy. After administering the shot, patients should be observed for 30 minutes. The bottom line is that allergy experts have changed their tune. They now say it is safer for egg-allergic patients to get vaccinated than to risk getting the flu.

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