Laura S. Asks:
Hi, can you educate me about the use of eggs to make vaccines? I’m pro vaccine but my son has an egg allergy and I just want to understand it better. Thanks!
Hi Laura, thank you for your question! Luckily, most vaccines are completely egg free and should not pose a problem for your son at all. There are a couple, however, that may contain small quantities of egg and you should speak with your doctor and allergist before proceeding with them. In the US, the main one you’ll need to talk to your doctor about is the influenza vaccine; according to the CDC, most versions of the influenza vaccine contain small quantities of egg (there is an influenza vaccine free of egg protein, but it’s only approved for people over 18). Because the quantities of egg protein in the vaccine is very low, it can usually still often be given to people with egg allergies, depending on the severity of the allergy. The best thing to do is consult with your doctor about your child’s specific health needs, but it is likely that he’ll be able to receive the vaccine. If your doctor approves, you should definitely remain in the doctor’s office for 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine, just for monitoring purposes.
Additionally, the vaccines for yellow fever, tick borne encephalitis, and one version of the rabies vaccine may contain small quantities of egg, but these vaccines are not typically given in the US. We should also note that the MMR vaccine is grown in chick embryo tissue culture, but several studies have documented the safety of MMR in children with egg allergy and as such, egg allergy is not a contraindication to the MMR vaccine.
We hope this helps!
Egg allergy safety data from the Public Health Agency of Canada: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/cig-gci/p02-04-eng.php#rabies
Precautions and Contraindications for vaccines from the Immunization Action Coalition: http://www.immunize.org/askexperts/precautions-contraindications.asp