The flu vaccine may pose a risk to people with allergies to eggs – is it safe to get the vaccine?
Each year, vulnerable people and people over 50 are offered a free flu shot during the winter months. The flu shot is extremely effective in protecting people at risk of getting sick from the flu, as well as protecting those around you.
However, according to the NHS, some people should be careful about the specific type of flu shot they get.
Adults who have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs in the past, or who have a diagnosed egg allergy, should talk to their doctor before getting a flu shot.
This does not mean, however, that they cannot get the flu shot. Patients should discuss the best option for them with their GP.
The NHS says: “Most adults can get the flu shot, but you should avoid it if you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction to a flu shot.
“You may be at risk for an allergic reaction to the flu shot injection if you have an egg allergy.
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Symptoms often start in childhood, but experts at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology estimate that about 70 percent of children with egg allergies pass the condition by age 16.
Even if you have an egg allergy that lasts until adulthood, that doesn’t mean you can’t get your flu shot at all.
The NHS recommends talking to your GP or pharmacist for a low-egg or no-egg vaccine.
Dr Pritish K. Tosh also told MayoClinc about steps that can be taken for people who are allergic to eggs but still want to be protected from the flu.
He said: “If you only have a mild egg allergy, it is still safe to get your flu shot.
“There are two influenza vaccines that do not contain egg protein and are approved for use in adults 18 years of age and older.
“And even flu shots that contain egg protein can be safely given to people with allergies to eggs.”
In some cases, you may need to wait up to 30 minutes before leaving surgery to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction.
Dr Tosh added that patients may be required to have a skin test before vaccination to check the severity of their allergy.
Who is eligible for an NHS flu vaccine in England?
The NHS distributes flu shots each year to people who meet specific requirements.
These include people over 50 and those who are considered vulnerable, or who have vulnerable people in their homes.
The flu shot is given to:
People aged 50 and over
People with certain health problems
People in long-stay institutions
People who receive care allowance or who are the main caregivers of a disabled person
People who live with someone who may get sick with the flu
Front-line health and social service workers