- New guidelines say the flu shot is safe for even more people — including those with egg allergies
- What to know about this year's flu shot
- If You Have an Egg Allergy, Can You Still Get a Flu Shot?
- So, what exactly do eggs have to do with the flu shot?
- So, can you still get the flu shot if you’re allergic to eggs?
- Flu news: Now most people with egg allergies can get a flu shot
- What if you have an egg allergy?
- Why this change?
- Get your flu shot
- Are Flu Vaccines Safe For People With Egg Allergies?
- Allergic to eggs? You can now get the flu shot, new guidelines say
- FLUCELVAX® (Influenza Vaccine): Cell-Based
- How is FLUCELVAX® made?
- Does FLUCELVAX® work?
- Is FLUCELVAX® right for me?
- Where can I get FLUCELVAX®?
- Safety Information:
- Egg Allergy and Influenza Vaccination
- Influenza vaccines and egg protein
- Safety of influenza vaccines in individuals with egg allergy
- Severe allergic reactions to vaccination are very rare
- Minor short lived side effects from vaccination are common
- Further advice and variance from product information
- Flu Facts: Flu Vaccine and Asthma
- Is the Flu Vaccine Safe for People With Asthma?
- Does the Flu Vaccine Make Asthma Worse?
- Is the Nasal Vaccine a Good Choice for People With Asthma?
- Can the Flu Shot Vaccine Make Me Sick With the Flu?
- Is the Flu Vaccine Safe for People With Egg Allergy?
- JOIN NOW
New guidelines say the flu shot is safe for even more people — including those with egg allergies
- The most common kind of flu shot is grown in eggs.
- For years, clinicians were coached to ask if patients were allergic to eggs before administering a shot.
- But a wealth of studies confirm that the egg-based flu vaccine is safe even for those allergic to eggs.
For years, immunologists were cautious about giving the flu shot to folks with egg allergies.
Because most flu vaccines are grown in eggs, they have trace amounts of egg protein in them.
“Are you allergic to eggs?” used to be a common question clinicians would ask before administering the shot.
But no more.
Allergist Matthew Greenhawt of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) authored new guidelines that came out Tuesday.
“Children with egg allergy of any severity can receive influenza vaccine without any special precautions,” he told Business Insider in an email. (It's safe for adults too.)
But Greenhawt said his “advice is not new per se,” since evidence has shown for years that the flu shot poses no greater risk to those with egg allergies. The ACAAI estimates that up to 2% of American kids have an egg allergy, though most will outgrow it by age 16.
A wealth of studies have shown that the vaccine is safe even for patients with severe allergies to egg.
In 2016, the CDC said the shot was fine for people who break out in hives, experience severe facial swelling (angioedema), or need a dose of epinephrine when exposed to eggs.
The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology also says “no special precautions are required for the administration of influenza vaccine to egg-allergic patients no matter how severe the egg allergy.”
Now there’s even more consensus among governmental organizations in the US and Canada that all types of flu vaccine, including the flu mist, are safe for almost everyone.
What to know about this year's flu shot
Drugmakers have been making the majority of flu shots in eggs for more than 70 years.
There are some non-egg-based shots, but they’re newer and rarer. A recombinant vaccine, which mixes “wild” virus proteins with insect cells, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2013. A cell-grown flu vaccine was approved in 2016.
Normally, the flu vaccine is 40-60% effective. This year’s shot has been updated with new H1N1 parts, so it’s more effective against circulating strains of that virus. But because a mutation happened while the vaccine was being grown in eggs this year, it’s proving less effective against one of the more virulent strains circulating: H3N2.
Flu experts say that could make this US flu season a little rougher and the vaccine could be a bit less effective than usual. But you should still get the shot to help protect against all other circulating strains. (Doctors are not recommending the flu mist for the 2017-2018 flu season, because it's been less effective in recent years.)
Flu season is expected to peak between late December and March 2018, and is already circulating widely in the southeastern US.
The weekly influenza surveillance report for December 4-9, 2017 shows “influenza illness” spreading across the southeastern US. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In rare cases, people can have an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine, but that type of vaccine-induced anaphylaxis is extremely rare — it happens to about one in every one million vaccine recipients, regardless of other allergies.
If You Have an Egg Allergy, Can You Still Get a Flu Shot?
It's officially flu season, and you know what that means: It's also flu shot myth season.
While every single person should be getting a flu shot every single year (unless you're medically unable to, because of age, allergies, or other medical exemptions), flu myths still scare lots of people off from getting the jab. (Quick FYI: You cannot get the flu from the flu shot, and you absolutely do need to get it each year).
But there's one myth out there that seems understandable, at least in theory: That people with egg allergies can't get the flu shot. While, again, that's also untrue, you might be wondering where that specific myth came from in the first place. Here's what to know about the link between egg allergies and flu shots.
RELATED: How Long Does the Flu Shot Last? Here's What Experts Say
So, what exactly do eggs have to do with the flu shot?
It's all about how the flu vaccine is made. The most common way is through an egg-based manufacturing process, which has been in use for more than 70 years, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
To make the vaccines, candidate vaccine viruses (CVVs), or flu viruses that are prepared by the CDC or other public health organization, are grown in eggs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Those CVVs are then injected into fertilized hen’s eggs and incubated for several days to allow the viruses to replicate.
The fluid (which contains the virus) is harvested from the eggs. For flu shots, the flu viruses are then killed, broken up, and purified, the CDC explains. For the nasal spray vaccine, the starting CVVs are weakened viruses and go through a different production process.
Basically, “you can think of the egg as a test tube,” says William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
“Viruses have to grow in something living—you can’t just grow them on a Petri dish the way bacteria do.
” And because those flu viruses are grown in eggs, “little traces of egg protein, although they are miniscule, are at least theoretically associated with the final vaccine product,” he says.
RELATED: Why Missing My Flu Shot Could Put My Best Friend's Life in Danger
So, can you still get the flu shot if you’re allergic to eggs?
Yes, absolutely. “An egg allergy isn’t a problem for [the flu vaccine],” says infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “The amount of egg protein that’s in a vaccine isn’t enough to trigger a severe reaction.”
It’s been known for a long time that people who get any vaccine (not just the flu vaccine) can have an allergic reaction to some part of the vaccine, Dr. Schaffner says.
“It was long thought that it might be due to the eggs, but in the last 10 years, there have been a number of studies by allergists that have shown that the traces of egg protein in flu vaccine are not the cause of these allergic reactions,” he says.
All people with egg allergies used to have to be observed for an allergic reaction for 30 minutes after they got the flu vaccine, the CDC says, but now the organization just recommends that people with a history of a severe reaction to egg (that is, any symptom other than hives) get vaccinated in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting, a hospital, clinic, health department, or doctor’s office, under the supervision of a health care provider who is able to spot and manage severe allergic conditions.
There are egg-free flu vaccines available, cell-based flu vaccines and recombinant flu vaccines, but “those are being made for different reasons, not because of people who are allergic to eggs,” Dr. Adalja says.
Overall, though, if you’re allergic to eggs, definitely still get your flu shot. “We need to put that whole [myth] to rest,” Dr. Schaffner says.
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Flu news: Now most people with egg allergies can get a flu shot
There are hundreds of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses; influenza (the “flu”) is just one group of viruses which can cause mild to severe illness, and sometimes even death.
Certain people — such as the very young or the very old, pregnant women, or those with chronic medical conditions asthma, diabetes, or heart disease — are at greater risk for serious complications from the flu. Though the numbers fluctuate, the flu leads to hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 deaths every year in the U.S.
, the numbers from the last few decades. How bad the flu season is depends a lot on the circulating flu viruses and whether the flu vaccine is well-matched, both of which usually change from year to year.
Typical flu symptoms come on quickly and include high fever, chills, headache, body aches, non-productive cough, and sometimes sore throat and stuffy or runny nose.
Getting the flu vaccine at the beginning of the flu season (around October) is one of the best ways to protect yourself from this miserable illness.
The CDC recommends routine yearly vaccination for everyone six months and older, unless they have had a previous serious allergic reaction to the influenza vaccine.
What if you have an egg allergy?
Because most influenza vaccine products are made with a small amount of egg protein, previous guidelines advised against using these vaccines in those with a severe egg allergy.
This year, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) now states that people with egg allergies can receive influenza vaccines as long as they have never had a serious allergic reaction to the actual influenza vaccine or its other ingredients in the past. Specifically:
- People with a hives-only allergy to eggs can receive any licensed, recommended, age-appropriate vaccine.
- Those who report serious reactions to eggs other than hives (even anaphylaxis, a severe life-threatening allergic reaction) may receive any licensed, recommended, age-appropriate vaccine, but it should be administered in a medical setting (such as a clinic or hospital) by someone who can recognize and treat severe allergic reactions.
- Prior recommendation to monitor for 30 minutes after receiving the flu vaccine was removed, but the ACIP has a general suggestion to observe patients for 15 minutes after all types of vaccines, though this would not catch delayed serious reactions that happen much later.
- Another option for people 18 years and older is the egg-free recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) Flublok.
Why this change?
It turns out that anaphylaxis as a result of the flu shot is quite rare. Ten cases of anaphylaxis were reported among the 7.
4 million trivalent inactivated influenza vaccines — vaccines that use killed viruses to protect against three strains (types) of flu — that were given alone, corresponding to a rate of 1.35 events per one million shots.
These reactions may have been due to ingredients other than the very small amount of egg protein in the vaccine. Rare cases of anaphylaxis following the flu vaccine in patients with egg allergies have been reported.
However, there are several studies of children and adults with egg allergies, including one review of over 4,000 patients, who were given trivalent flu shots and none developed anaphylaxis. Studies with live-attenuated influenza vaccine (FluMist) showed similar findings (though the FluMist is not recommended this year because of concerns of lower effectiveness).
Get your flu shot
So the good news is that if you have been avoiding the flu shot in the past because of an egg allergy, studies suggest that a severe allergic reaction to the flu vaccine is quite rare.
So if you have never had a bad reaction to the flu shot itself, try to protect yourself this year by getting a flu shot now. Go to your doctor or hospital to get vaccinated.
This way you can get prompt treatment in the unly event that you have an immediate severe reaction.
Are Flu Vaccines Safe For People With Egg Allergies?
fcafotodigital / iStockphoto
For many years, flu shots were not recommended for people with egg allergies. The vaccine is grown in chicken eggs and it was thought that this could cause a serious allergic reaction in people with egg allergies.
For this reason, flu vaccines were avoided by people with egg allergies. However, current research and data show that the risk of this type of reaction, even in people with significant egg allergies, is extremely low.
Starting with the 2016-2017 flu season, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone with a history of egg allergy be vaccinated against the flu.
- Those with an egg allergy and a history of hives or rash only can be vaccinated just everyone else. No special precautions need to be taken.
- People with a history of severe allergic reaction to eggs such as anaphylaxis, swelling of the face, tongue or throat, difficulty breathing, repeated vomiting, or lightheadedness should also be vaccinated against the flu. The vaccine should be given by a licensed health care provider who is trained to spot the signs of a severe allergic reaction and can manage those symptoms if they occur. This can be at an inpatient or outpatient facility, as long as the person giving the vaccine meets these qualifications.
- Anyone that has experienced an allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past should not receive one in the future.
Recent studies have shown that the chance of allergic reaction after a vaccine is incredibly low. According to the CDC, “In a Vaccine Safety Datalink study, there were ten cases of anaphylaxis after more than 7.
4 million doses of inactivated flu vaccine, trivalent (IIV3) given without other vaccines, (rate of 1.35 per one million doses). Most of these cases of anaphylaxis were not related to the egg protein present in the vaccine.
CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices continue to review available data regarding anaphylaxis cases following flu vaccines.”
This means that 7.4 million people that received a flu vaccine, only ten people experienced anaphylaxis—the most serious type of allergic reaction—and most of those were not related to an egg allergy.
This is a case where the benefit outweighs the risk. The chance of having a true, serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine is miniscule. The benefits are far greater.
Although it is still possible to get the flu after you have been vaccinated, the chances of having severe symptoms and complications are much lower.
Most people who get the flu after having received the flu vaccine experience a shorter duration of the illness and milder symptoms.
The recommendation that people with egg allergies be vaccinated by allergists or doctors with specialized experience in recognizing severe allergic reactions and be monitored for 30 minutes after vaccination has changed as well. Most anyone who is trained to give vaccines should be able to recognize the signs of an allergic reaction.
If you are concerned about the possibility of a reaction, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to ensure the person giving the vaccine knows what to watch for and what to do if a reaction occurs.
Because a majority of life-threatening allergic reactions occur soon after vaccination, there is no need to wait 30 minutes for observation after receiving a flu vaccine.
However, if you get a vaccine and start to experience the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately. Use your Epi-Pen if you have one and call 911 or get to the Emergency Room.
Nearly everyone over the age of 6 months should be vaccinated against the flu each year. Although it may seem a hassle to go get a flu shot each fall, you could be saving a life.
It may not be your own if you aren't at high risk for complications from the flu, but if you protect yourself, you could protect others as well.
By preventing the flu in your own house, you could avoid spreading it to someone that may be at high risk and could become seriously ill or die from it.
If you are allergic to eggs and you aren't sure what to do about getting your flu vaccine, talk to your health care provider. There are plenty of options and very few reasons to skip out on this important vaccine.
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- Flu Vaccine and People with Egg Allergies. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Get Vaccinated | Seasonal Influenza (Flu) | CDC.
- Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines | Health Professionals | Seasonal Influenza (Flu).
- Vaccine Effectiveness – How Well Does the Flu Vaccine Work? | Seasonal Influenza (Flu) | CDC.
Allergic to eggs? You can now get the flu shot, new guidelines say
- The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older
- Flu shots are safe for people with an egg allergy, according to new guidelines
(CNN)Every year, millions of Americans get sick with the flu. While the vast majority of people will recover without any serious complications, not everyone is so lucky.
Over the course of a typical flu season — which runs from October to May in the United States — hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized with the virus and tens of thousands die from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although no seasonal flu vaccine is 100% effective (last year's vaccine was just 42% effective), it is still the best way to prevent infection. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated every year.
However, not everyone in that range has been able to get the vaccine to date. In the past, people with egg allergy were advised to explore egg-free flu vaccination options.
Most flu vaccines administered today are manufactured using chicken eggs and contain trace amounts of a protein called ovalbumin.
But a paper published Tuesday in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology found the flu shot to be safe and recommended its use for people who are allergic to eggs.
“People with egg allergy of any severity can receive the influenza vaccine without any special precautions,” said Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, the paper's lead author and chairman of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Food Allergy Committee.
The new findings mean that even more people will be able to get their recommended flu shot without sacrificing peace of mind.
Greenhawt, who is also an associate professor of pediatrics at Children's Hospital Colorado, estimates that egg allergy affects 2% of children in the United States.
“It's very rare to see an adult with egg allergy — not impossible,” he said. “One redeeming quality about egg allergy is that the majority of it is outgrown at some point in childhood, with a very small proportion of individuals retaining that into adulthood. … It's primarily a pediatric problem.”
According to a press release accompanying the new report, it is no longer necessary to:
- See an allergy specialist for the flu shot.
- Give special flu shots that don't contain traces of egg.
- Require longer-than-normal observation periods after the shot.
- Ask about egg allergy before giving the vaccine.
The new guidelines are the result of an analysis of 28 studies involving thousands of people with egg allergy, including hundreds with severe egg allergy.
The researchers concluded that someone who is allergic to eggs is not at an increased risk of experiencing an adverse reaction to the flu vaccine.
“That doesn't rule out that somebody might react to the influenza vaccine,” Greenhawt said. “Any provider who's giving vaccines needs to be prepared to recognize and manage an adverse reaction to a vaccine, including a severe reaction anaphylaxis.”
Anaphylaxis — a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction — “can occur rarely after the administration of any vaccine to any patient at a rate of approximately 1 per million,” according to research conducted by Dr. John Kelso, an allergist and immunologist at Scripps Health, who co-authored the new guidelines.
Symptoms of the flu usually come on quickly and can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue, according to the CDC.
“You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick,” the agency says. “Although people with the flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins, some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.”
The best ways to avoid the flu include staying away from people who you know or suspect may be sick; covering your mouth when you cough and nose when you sneeze; and washing your hands regularly — especially during the cold winter months.
Even though it is the single most effective way to prevent infection, only 46.8% of people living in the United States got vaccinated for the 2016-17 flu season, according to CDC data. Experts say it's still not too late to get your 2017-18 shot.
“This is the best preventative measure we have against contracting influenza,” Greenhawt said. “It's a very important vaccine to get every year.”
Correction: This story has been revised to correct Dr. Greenhawt's title.
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FLUCELVAX® (Influenza Vaccine): Cell-Based
We’ll help keep you safe at home or abroad. Book your visit online today!
The influenza virus is constantly changing and evolving, making vaccine creation difficult. FLUCELVAX®, the first FDA approved cell culture flu vaccine,1 hopes to change that.
Through innovative technology, this vaccine protects against influenza (the flu) and has been approved for individuals four years of age and older.
The vaccine contains no preservatives, no antibiotics, and it uses cell culture technology to create a vaccine that doesn’t require the use of fertilized chicken eggs in the production process.
FLUCELVAX® is a quadrivalent flu vaccine that will protect against four different influenza strains from both the A and B subtypes.
The vaccine is not made in chicken eggs, meaning that it can be given to most people who have allergies.
The cell culture technology used to produce the vaccine also allows it to be produced more quickly than some other vaccinations and could make it easier to produce in case of an influenza pandemic2.
How is FLUCELVAX® made?
The vaccine is made by introducing the influenza virus into cell cultures instead of fertilized chicken eggs. This means the vaccine is entirely egg-free, perfect for anyone with an egg-allergy.
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The virus then goes through additional purification steps and is finally ready for mass use. The FLUCELVAX® vaccine is produced in a closed, sterile, state-of-the-art facility that makes it possible for the vaccine to be produced without antibiotics.
Does FLUCELVAX® work?
FLUCELVAX® has been studied in multiple clinical trials, including a study of over 11,000 people, which evaluated the vaccine’s safety and the immune system response in test subjects compared to conventional egg-based vaccines and a placebo. Clinical studies demonstrated that FLUCELVAX® induced an immune response in healthy adults and seniors3.
Is FLUCELVAX® right for me?
FLUCELVAX® is approved for individuals four years or older and provides the same protection as traditionally manufactured vaccinations. It is a good option for most anyone looking for influenza protection.
Where can I get FLUCELVAX®?
You can get FLUCELVAX® at Passport Health locations nationwide.
FLUCELVAX® is approved for anyone over the age of 18 to prevent influenza disease. Common side effects of FLUCELVAX® include: pain or redness where you got the shot, headache, tiredness, muscle aches and feeling unwell (malaise).
You should not get FLUCELVAX® if you have had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine.
Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (severe muscle weakness) after getting a flu shot or if you have ever fainted after receiving an injection.
Tell your healthcare provider if you have problems with your immune system, as your immune response to the vaccine may be less.
1 FDA Informational Document. HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION
2 Novartis. FLUCELVAX® Frequently Asked Questions
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What makes FLUCELVAX® different?
How is FLUCELVAX® made?
Does FLUCELVAX® work?
Is FLUCELVAX® right for me?
Where can I get FLUCELVAX®?
Egg Allergy and Influenza Vaccination
ASCIA PCC Egg Allergy and Influenza Vaccination 2019120.57 KB
People with egg allergy may be safely vaccinated with the influenza (flu) vaccine.
Vaccination is an important method to reduce the risk of developing infectious diseases, including influenza, which is a major cause of illness and deaths worldwide.
Notification and hospitalisation rates for influenza infections are highest in children up to five years of age, which is also the age group most affected by egg allergy.
Influenza vaccines and egg protein
The current influenza vaccines distributed in Australia and New Zealand are derived from influenza virus, and grown in hen’s egg.
Once purified, the amount of residual egg ovalbumin present in each vaccine dose is usually less than 1 microgram.
This is substantially less than the amount of egg protein that is ly to trigger reactions in people with egg allergy, which is estimated at 130 micrograms taken orally.
Safety of influenza vaccines in individuals with egg allergy
Several published reviews, guidelines and reports suggest no increased risk of anaphylaxis associated with influenza vaccination of people with egg-allergy.
A 2012 review of published studies included 4172 egg-allergic patients (513 with a history of a severe egg allergy) with no cases of anaphylaxis occurring after receiving an inactivated influenza vaccine.
Further studies have confirmed these results.
Severe allergic reactions to vaccination are very rare
The risk of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to inactivated influenza vaccine is similar to other vaccines, and estimated at 1.35 per million doses. If anaphylaxis is suspected, a review by an allergy or vaccine specialist is recommended to confirm the diagnosis and provide advice on vaccination.
Minor short lived side effects from vaccination are common
Injection site reactions (such as local pain, redness and swelling), fever, muscle aches, irritability or worsened eczema a day after vaccination are common side effects. They indicate the start of an immune response, not vaccine allergy.
There is no evidence that having egg allergy increases the risk of having an allergic reaction to the currently available influenza vaccines.
Therefore, people with an egg allergy can receive an influenza vaccine in facilities with staff able to recognise and treat suspected anaphylaxis, which includes administration of adrenaline (epinephrine).
Observations should occur for 15-20 minutes after vaccination.
Further advice and variance from product information
This advice is consistent with Australian and New Zealand immunisation guidelines and has been adapted from ASCIA Guidelines for vaccination of the egg-allergic individual, which are available on the ASCIA website www.allergy.org.au/hp/papers/vaccination-of-the-egg-allergic-individual
This advice varies to the vaccine product information, which indicates that egg allergy is a contraindication to influenza vaccination and lists egg allergy as a special warning or precaution. This means that even though the lihood of having an allergic reaction is very low, people with egg allergy must be in a medical facility when vaccinated.
© ASCIA 2019
ASCIA is the peak professional body of clinical immunology/allergy specialists in Australia and New Zealand.
ASCIA resources are published literature and expert review, however, they are not intended to replace medical advice. The content of ASCIA resources is not influenced by any commercial organisations.
For more information go to www.allergy.org.au
To donate to immunology/allergy research go to www.allergyimmunology.org.au
Flu Facts: Flu Vaccine and Asthma
Fall brings us cooler weather, colorful trees and harvest fairs and festivals. But it also brings us the beginning of flu season. Since the flu season lasts from about October to May – and peaks between December to February – you need to do all you can to protect yourself against the flu, especially if you have asthma.
But many people avoid the flu vaccine because they have some concerns about the safety of the vaccine or need for the vaccine.
Here are some common questions about the flu vaccine.
Is the Flu Vaccine Safe for People With Asthma?
Not only is the flu vaccine safe for people with asthma, it can be lifesaving. Asthma is a chronic disease where the airways are inflamed. Triggers, such as allergens, pollution and infections, can cause this inflammation.
The flu, also called influenza, is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. “Respiratory” means this is an illness that affects your breathing. The flu by itself can make even the healthiest person very sick. It can also cause complications that can result in a hospital stay or even death. Examples of complications are:
- Ear and sinus infections
Because people with asthma already have sensitive airways, this group has a higher chance of having serious flu complications and worse asthma symptoms.1 It is especially important that people with asthma, and those living with them, get the flu vaccine.2
While you’re getting your flu vaccine, talk to your doctor about getting the pneumococcal [NOO-muh-KAH-kuhl] vaccine too, if you haven’t already.3 Pneumococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection that can also be dangerous for people with asthma. This vaccine may help protect you against one of the most common flu complications.
Does the Flu Vaccine Make Asthma Worse?
No. Experts reviewed several trials on the flu vaccine given to both adults and children with asthma. They did not find proof that the flu shot makes asthma worse.4 They found that the flu vaccine protected people with asthma.
Is the Nasal Vaccine a Good Choice for People With Asthma?
For the 2019-2020 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), does not recommend the nasal spray flu vaccine for children ages 2 through 4 who have asthma or who have had wheezing within the past 12 months. They also say people age 5 and older with asthma should take precautions if they want to get the nasal vaccine.
The nasal spray flu vaccine is also known as the live attenuated influence vaccine (LAIV).5 If you have asthma and want to consider the nasal vaccine, talk to your doctor first.
Can the Flu Shot Vaccine Make Me Sick With the Flu?
No. It’s not possible for the flu shot vaccine to make you sick because the viruses in the shot are inactivated (dead). This means they are not infectious.4
If you get sick after getting the flu vaccine, here are a few possible reasons why:
- You may have caught another virus going around. During flu season, people are spreading other illnesses too. Some of these viruses may have similar symptoms to the flu.
- You might have caught the flu right before you got the vaccine. This means the vaccine would not have had time to take effect. It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to start to work. That’s why it’s best to get it as soon as possible before flu season begins.
- You might have caught a strain of flu that isn’t in the current vaccine. Experts pick the top three or four flu strains they think will be the most common for each season. These go into the flu vaccine. Other strains might still get passed around. But even if you catch another strain of flu, the flu shot can still help you. Some studies have shown that it can still make the flu less severe.6
Is the Flu Vaccine Safe for People With Egg Allergy?
Most versions of the flu vaccine can contain a tiny amount of egg protein. So can you still get the flu vaccine if you are allergic to eggs?
Yes. Studies show that an egg allergy is no long a reason to avoid the flu vaccine. These studies looked at people with different types of reactions to egg and found a low chance of reaction to the flu shot.
During the past few years, the following organizations updated their recommendations on the flu vaccine and egg allergy:
- American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
- The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI)
- The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI)
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
BOTTOM LINE: It is safe for ALL people with an egg allergy to receive an annual flu shot. This is true no matter how severe your egg allergy was in the past. This includes anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) to egg.
The take-home message? The flu vaccine is a critical part of asthma management and could save your life or the life of a loved one with asthma.
Medical Review October 2017. Updated September 2019.
It is important to stay up-to-date on news about asthma and allergies. By joining our community and following our blog, you will receive news about research and treatments. Our community also provides an opportunity to connect with other patients who manage these conditions for support.
1. Flu and People with Asthma | Seasonal Influenza (Flu) | CDC. (2019). Cdc.gov. Retrieved 25 September 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/asthma/index.htm
2. Who Needs a Flu Vaccine and When. (2019). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 25 September 2019, from https://www.
3. Pneumococcal Vaccination | CDC. (2019). Cdc.gov. Retrieved 25 September 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/pneumo/index.html
4. Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines | Seasonal Influenza (Flu) | CDC. (2019). Cdc.gov. Retrieved 25 September 2019, from https://www.cdc.
5. Chen, W., Arnold, J., Fairchok, M., Danaher, P., McDonough, E., & Blair, P. et al. (2015). Epidemiologic, clinical, and virologic characteristics of human rhinovirus infection among otherwise healthy children and adults. Journal Of Clinical Virology, 64, 74-82. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcv.
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Phone: 1-800-7-ASTHMA (1.800.727.8462)
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