Flu Jab and Egg Allergy

Im due to have my flu jab but at the moment im on a egg free diet. But remember reading somewhere that the injection isnt suitable for those with an egg allergy. I dont know if i have an egg allergy as i havent eatten any since i was 5 yrs old,and only had food containing egg in the ingredients eg cakes. Cant stand the taste of egg or even the smell of them cooking. Yuk! My consultant thought it would be worthwhile avoiding all eggs for a few weeks and seeing if my asthma improved. My lungs seem to be behaving themselves at the moment and i feel less itchy, so im beginning to wonder if i do have a problem with egg.

I dont want to avoid the flu jab as i caught flu last year in September and then got pneumonia. I really dont want to go through that again! Though in past years when i had the jab, 10 minutes after i always get really wheezy and end up being sent to a&e. But think would rather have a wheezy day or two than months recovering from flu.

Does anybody with a egg allergy have the flu jab or is it considered too risky? Im going to speak to my gp, but just wondered what others do. Is there an egg free flu jab? Or any other alternatives.


8 Replies

  • Hi Sarah,

    I did a trial of egg-free diet about ten years ago (it didn't help my asthma) and was told that I would probably be fine with the flu jab, as it is grown on egg, rather than containing huge amounts of egg itself, but obivously there could still be traces of egg protein, so it is largely dependent on how sensitive you are to egg.

    I think there is one company who makes an egg-free flu jab, but it's not normally available on the NHS so you'd maybe have to buy it yourself. I'm not sure of the details but I'll try to find out.

    Otherwise, you might want to ask your consultant about the possibility of having the jab in hospital, with preadministration of high dose steroids and antihistamines, and doctors and resus equipment on standby just in case.

    I would agree that the risk of getting 'flu with brittle asthma is really not worth it!

    I'm sure Kate has written something more about this issue in the past?

    One other thing occurs - have you been referred to see an Immunologist? I am being referred in the light of a recent food-related (oh, alright, drink-related) allergic reaction, just to see if there is anything else they can add in terms of other allergens or treatment.

    Hope this helps

    Em H

  • Thanks Em H

    think gp will prob say should have flu jab at hospital. Ref to immologist was mentioned but waiting to see Dr Mansau at Heartlands. So was told to wait til gone down that route. Nhs trust is short of money so one thing at a time. Think will ask again as my asthma seems very closely related to my allergies. Prehap if can get allergies undercontrol than my asthma will follow suit. Rather than the other way around. Just seem to be spending all of my time out of hospital going to out patient appointments. Also trying to sort out my bladder and eyes. So feel abit guilty asking for another referal but will ask my gp for advice and if they would refer me.

  • I was advised against the flu jab and haven't had it for many years now, though if pandemic flu became a huge problem I will ask if I can have the jab in a safe environment. Will also ask my Cons again about having normal flu jab.

    Touch wood I haven't had the flu!

    Other jabs to be aware of eggy wise are Yellow Fever (Africa etc) and tick borne encephalitis (parts of Europe etc)

    You are advised to have yellow fever jab when flying with the RAF to the Falklands just incase they have to divert to West Africa - I flew without and the RAF were fine!

    Em - I did read somewhere about an egg free jab - please let us know if you find out anything! TA!

    Hope this helps


  • I have had some kind of an allergy to eggs for years with reactions varying from hives to a full blown asthma attack. But Ive always had the flu jab every year some years Ive had a mild or moderate reaction but nothing so bad that it would put me off the jab. Obviously this could be very different for you, so Id agree perhaps in a hospital setting it might be more appropiate. Take care.

  • Hiya my daughter is 7 and has severe asthma she also has anaphylaxis to eggs they did try once to give her the flu jab in hospital so a resus team could be on standby but she reacted so badly to it that they never tried it again . Her body swelled to 3 times its size and she was red and itchy from head to toe.She spent 3 days in ITU . I have also heard there is an egg free one available but her consultant hadn't heard of it. Hope you are feeling a bit better. Take Care Nikki xx

  • Thanks everybody for the advice. Im going to phone my hospital asthma nurse and ask her about the flu jab. Cant see my gp being happy giving me the injection. Dont know if will want me to have it in chest clinic after the panic i caused reacting to xolair. Will try and sort something out tomorrow.

    Thanks again


  • I have tracked down two drug companies, IngentaConnect (www.ingentaconnect.com) and Baxter (www.baxter.com) who both have manufactured 'flu vaccine in the past that is cultured on cell cultures rather than eggs. Baxter actually has the contract with most Western governments, including us and the US, to make vaccine in case of a pandemic, as their production technique is much faster than the traditional egg-based one.

    However, neither of them are listed in the BNF, so I assume neither of them are available on prescription. It may well be that the companies don't actually manufacture the vaccine to this year's particular strain every year, if they are not currently being asked to supply it.

    Other suggestions from the literature on allergic reactions to the flu vaccine:

    - it is possible to 'patch test' with a small amount of the vaccine on the skin - this might help to predict how severe the reaction was going to be. There is still a small risk of anaphylaxis with severe allergy, though.

    - some respiratory physicians are supplying patients who they have been unable to vaccinate with Relenza, the anti-flu drug. The trouble is, it's not a particularly effective drug (it lessens the severity and duration of infection slightly) and it has to be started within the first 24 hours, ideally within the first 12 hours, of symptoms, to be effective at all - and at that stage you might only have vague symptoms and not be aware that you were getting 'flu at all. It is believed to improve the outcome if started early enough in those people who are at high risk and do get 'flu.

    I will try to find out some more information in the morning if I can, hope this helps

    Em H

  • Hi Em,

    Thanks, will ask a bout the patch test - sounds a good idea. I have found that I have been able to eat Manchego cheese despite it recen'ty having an egg warning on it - they use lysozome which is an egg enzyme but the anaphylaxix campaign say that it rarely causes a reaction as there should be no protein in it. Not eaten any for a while anyway, Oh and most good pestos have the egg warning now - grrrr! Tescos value stuff is OK.

    Anyway, I assume the patch test is like the skin prick test??


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