More evidence flu shot is safe for the egg-allergic: study

Oct 10 (Reuters) - With flu season approaching, a Canadianstudy offers more reassurance that children with egg allergiescan be safely vaccinated against the virus.

Because the flu vaccine is grown in chicken eggs, there havetraditionally been concerns about the safety of flu shots forpeople with egg allergies, most of whom are young children. Buttoday's vaccine has only tiny traces of egg protein, and studieshave been showing that children with egg allergies can bevaccinated without any serious reaction.

The researchers, whose findings appeared in The Journal ofAllergy and Clinical Immunology, followed 367 egg-allergicpeople, mostly children, who got the flu shot over five years.Almost one-third of them had a history of anaphylaxis aftereating eggs - that is, serious allergy symptoms such as troublebreathing or a drop in blood pressure.

None of the patients, however, had a serious reaction to theflu vaccine, and only 13 of the 367 had mild "allergy-like"symptoms, such as itchy skin or hives, within a day of beingvaccinated.

"The risk of anaphylaxis appears sufficiently low forpatients with egg allergy to be vaccinated like all otherindividuals, without requiring administration by an allergist,"wrote lead researcher Anne Des Roches, of Hopital Sainte-Justinein Montreal, and colleagues.

Des Roches and her colleagues also reviewed 26 past studiesthat involved close to 4,000 egg-allergic people who got the flushot. None of those patients developed a serious allergicreaction.

In general, experts recommend that all children age 6 monthsor older get an annual flu shot. Although the flu causes no morethan a week or so of misery in most children, children youngerthan 5 are at increased risk of complications such as pneumonia,bronchitis and sinus infections.

About 1.5 percent of U.S. children have an egg allergy,according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma andImmunology. It's thought that many of them have never gotten theflu shot over worries about an allergic reaction.

"I think parents of children with egg allergy should bereassured about the safety of the influenza vaccine for theirchild, and understand that the benefits are likely to outweighany risks," said Lynda Schneider, director of the allergyprogram at Boston Children's Hospital, in an email.SOURCE:

(Reporting from New York by Amy Norton at Reuters Health;editing by Elaine Lies)