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"The influenza vaccine is grown in chicken eggs; therefore, it contains trace amounts of egg allergen," Dr. James Sublett, chairman of the public relations committee at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, said in a college news release.
"It has been long advised that children and adults with an egg allergy do not receive the vaccination; however, we now know administration is safe," Sublett said. "Children and adults should be vaccinated, especially when the flu season is severe, as it is this year."
A study published in the December 2012 issue of the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology concluded that flu vaccine contains such a low amount of egg protein that it won't cause an allergic reaction in children with an egg allergy.
"The benefits of the flu vaccination far outweigh the risks," Sublett said. "The best precaution for children that have experienced anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, after ingesting eggs in the past is to receive the vaccination from an allergist."
Each year in the United States, the flu leads to the hospitalization of more than 21,000 children younger than age 5. But up to 2 percent of children may not receive the flu vaccine this year, and egg allergy is a major reason, according to the ACAAI.
Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children, but about 70 percent of children outgrow the allergy by age 16.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, Jan. 11, 2013