Immunizations (cont.)

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Can people with egg allergies still get the influenza vaccine?

Starting in 2013, there is now a vaccine specifically for people with egg allergy. Most influenza vaccines are made using eggs. Therefore, people with severe egg allergy had previously been recommended not to receive the influenza vaccine. However, now there is a new vaccine, recombinant hemagglutinin influenza vaccine (RIV), that is not made using eggs. This vaccine is safe for patients with egg allergy.

What is the hepatitis A vaccine, and who should receive it?

Hepatitis A is an acute viral illness that is spread through contaminated water and food. It is less common in the United States but is still a common cause of hepatitis worldwide. The disease is very common in many other parts of the world, including Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, the Western Pacific, and Asia. It is primarily prevented by using good hygiene and through vaccination. Hepatitis A vaccine is routinely given to children; however, it is only recommended for certain high-risk adolescents and adults. Foreign travel is the most common reason for adults and adolescents to receive hepatitis A vaccination.

What is the hepatitis B vaccine, and who should receive it?

Hepatitis B is an acute viral illness that is primarily spread through the exposure to body fluids of an infected individual. It can be transmitted through sexual intercourse and is highly contagious. Approximately 50% of infected individuals will be asymptomatic (have no symptoms of the disease). Most cases resolve without long-term complications; however, 1%-2% will develop chronic hepatitis. Hepatitis B vaccine is given routinely to children. Adolescents who did not receive their three-shot series as a child should be given the vaccine. Adults are not routinely given the hepatitis B vaccine unless they belong to certain high-risk groups. One high-risk group is health-care workers.

What is the polio vaccine, and who should receive it?

Polio is an acute viral illness that can cause severe paralysis and even death. Prior to the use of vaccine, tens of thousands of children developed paralytic polio (the worst form) in the U.S. every year. Since instituting an aggressive vaccine campaign, polio has been almost completely eradicated in the U.S. Most cases now in the U.S. are seen in people traveling from other countries or unvaccinated people from the U.S. traveling to other countries.

There are two forms of the polio vaccine: an oral form made from a live attenuated virus and an injection form made from an inactivated virus. The oral form of the vaccine (oral polio vaccine or OPV) is no longer used in the U.S. because it has been shown to cause polio in a small number of people. Only the shot form of the vaccine (intramuscular polio vaccine or IPV) is now used in the U.S. All children receive four doses of IPV. Adolescents who did not receive all four doses should be given an additional vaccine. Adults are not recommended to receive the polio vaccine unless they will be traveling to areas where polio still exists.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/21/2014


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