Egg Allergies and Vaccines

By Kristopher Denby, MD

A few vaccines use chicken eggs as a necessary part of the manufacturing process.  This is important for you to know if you are allergic to eggs.  These vaccines include MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella), MMRV (Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella), influenza (flu), yellow fever and rabies.  Below are the current expert recommendations about receiving these vaccines if you have egg allergy.

MMR/MMRV

There is very little egg protein in either the MMR or MMRV vaccines and they are considered safe for all children including those with egg allergies.

FLU VACCINE

Eggs.carton

Whether or not you have egg allergies, if you have had a severe reaction to the flu shot in the past you should not get a flu shot.  Reactions that are considered severe include: swelling near the eyes or lips, and significant difficulty breathing that required an ambulance, hospital stay, EpiPen or another shot.  If you had a reaction to the flu shot in the past and are unsure if it would be considered severe, ask your doctor.

If you have mild egg allergies (you get hives without any breathing problems) the flu shot is considered safe but you should let your doctor know.  Your doctor may ask you to stay at the office to be watched for 30 minutes after your flu shot.

If you have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs, it is recommended that you see a doctor who is an expert in severe allergic conditions to assess your risk of a reaction to the flu shot.  Severe reactions to egg include: swelling near the eyes or lips, lightheadedness, repeated vomiting, and significant difficulty breathing that required an ambulance, hospital stay, EpiPen or another shot.  The sooner any of these reactions happened after eating eggs, the more serious they are.  If you are uncertain whether or not your reaction to eggs is severe, talk to your doctor.

If you think you are allergic to eggs, talk with your doctor about what any reactions you have had after eating eggs.  Discussing your reactions to eating various foods can help her to determine whether the flu shot is safe for you.  Your doctor may also need to do blood and skin-prick tests to find out of the flu shot is safe for you.

YELLOW FEVER

We do not know whether the amount of egg protein in yellow fever vaccine is safe to administer to anyone with egg allergies.  If you have any allergy to eggs you should see an allergist to determine whether or not you should receive this vaccine.  Possible allergic reactions include: hives, swelling near the eyes or lips, wheezing, lightheadedness, repeated vomiting, and significant difficulty breathing that required an ambulance, hospital stay, EpiPen or another shot.

RABIES

There is one rabies vaccine (Imovax) that does not have any egg proteins in it and is safe whether or not you have an egg allergy.  If you have any allergy to eggs you should see an allergist to determine whether or not you should receive any rabies vaccine other than Imovax.