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Flu vaccine poses little egg allergy risk

Wednesday December 9th, 2015

Children with egg allergy are not likely to be placed at risk by the flu vaccination, a study shows today.

The children's vaccine is given intra-nasally and is very effective against influenza, with a good safety profile. However, concerns have been raised over its use in young people with egg allergy, as it is grown in hens' eggs and contains egg proteins such as ovalbumin.

Dr Paul Turner, of Imperial College London, UK, and colleagues recruited 779 young people aged two to 18 years with egg allergy, at 30 UK allergy centres. Of these, 40% had experienced an allergic reaction to egg in the past 12 months.

Participants were given the flu vaccine. Among the participants, 57% had been diagnosed with asthma or recurrent wheeze. All were observed for at least half an hour afterwards, and telephoned 72 hours later. Those with a history of recurrent wheeze or asthma were also checked after four weeks.

"No systemic allergic reactions occurred," state the researchers in The BMJ. Nine participants (1.2%) experienced mild symptoms, consistent with a local, IgE mediated allergic reaction.

In the following 72 hours, 8% experienced lower respiratory tract symptoms. None were admitted to hospital.

The flu vaccine "is associated with a low risk of systemic allergic reactions in young people with egg allergy," the authors report. "The vaccine seems to be well tolerated in those with well controlled asthma or recurrent wheeze."

They say this supports the Department of Health guidance for the 2015/16 influenza season which states that, with the exception of children with severe anaphylaxis to egg which has previously required intensive care, children with an egg allergy can be safely vaccinated in any setting."

Turner, P. et al. Safety of live attenuated influenza vaccine in young people with egg allergy: multicentre prospective cohort study. BMJ 9 December 2015 [abstract]

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Child Health | Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals | UK News

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