Q: Can vaccines be given to someone with an egg allergy?
A: Most vaccines in Australia do not contain egg. A few may contain traces of egg protein because the virus used to make the vaccine is grown in chicken eggs, before being inactivated and made into the vaccine. These are the influenza, yellow fever and Q fever vaccines.
The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine can even be given safely to people with severe egg allergies ("anaphylactic sensitivity"). This is because the MMR viruses are not grown in eggs and the vaccine does not contain egg protein.
Influenza 'flu' vaccines
Recent studies show that there is only a very low risk of reaction when people with egg allergies have the flu vaccination. Only tiny amounts of egg protein are contained in each dose of the flu vaccines available in Australia*.
Always tell your doctor or nurse about your allergy. People with less severe allergies (e.g. a rash only) can be safely vaccinated by a GP, but should wait at the doctor's surgery for about 30 minutes after the vaccination to make sure there is no allergic reaction. People with more severe egg allergy may need to be vaccinated under the supervision of a specialist allergy or immunology doctor.
Q fever and yellow fever vaccines
These vaccinations are not part of the National Immunisation Program schedule and are only given for special occupational or travel reasons. Q fever and yellow fever vaccines usually contain more egg protein than is found in influenza vaccines. An allergy or immunology specialist should be consulted before these vaccines are given to people with an egg allergy.
Tell your doctor about your allergies before having a vaccine
Always tell your doctor or nurse about all your allergies before having any vaccine.
*Less than 1 microgram per dose. This amount may vary depending on the year and place of production.
- The Children's Hospital at Westmead. Egg allergy factsheet. kidshealth.chw.edu.au/fact-sheets/egg-allergy (accessed 7 November 2011).
- Australasian Society for Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Guidelines for medical practitioners. Influenza vaccination of the egg-allergic individual, September 2010. www.allergy.org.au/images/stories/pospapers/ascia_guidelines_influenza_vaccination_egg_allergic_individual_2010.pdf (accessed: 7 November 2011).