For Egg-Allergic Kids, Nasal Flu Vaccine Appears Safe

Fluenz Tetra likely safe for kids with egg allergy, well-controlled asthma

(RxWiki News) Some flu vaccines are made using eggs, raising safety concerns for many patients with egg allergies. But a new finding may help put that fear to rest.

Despite past concerns, a new study found that the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) is likely safe for use in kids and teens with egg allergy. This vaccine may also be appropriate for youth with well-controlled asthma or recurrent wheeze. LAIV (brand name Fluenz Tetra) is a nasal spray flu vaccine developed specifically for children.

This finding supports the UK Department of Health's revised recommendations for the 2015-2016 flu season. According to the agency, children with egg allergy can be safely vaccinated with LAIV in any setting — with the exception of kids with a history of severe anaphylaxis that required intensive care.

Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening reaction that occurs within seconds or minutes of exposure to an allergen.

For this study, a team of researchers led by Paul J. Turner, PhD, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London looked at 779 children and teens ages 2 to 18 with known egg allergy.

About 40 percent of these patients had an allergic reaction to eggs in the past year, about 35 percent had a history of anaphylaxis, and about 57 percent had been diagnosed with asthma or recurrent wheeze.

All patients were vaccinated with LAIV and observed for at least 30 minutes. Follow-up was then conducted by phone 72 hours later. The patients with asthma or recurrent wheeze were followed up with again four weeks later.

No serious allergic reactions occurred within two hours of vaccination. Only 1 percent of these patients experienced mild symptoms including skin rash, sneezing, itchiness and runny nose — suggesting a local allergic reaction.

While delayed reactions possibly due to the vaccine were reported in 221 patients, none of these patients were admitted to the hospital.

Dr. Turner and colleagues stressed that staff should be trained to recognize and treat anaphylaxis, as in all settings providing vaccines.

If you or your child has an egg allergy, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before getting vaccinated.

This study was published Dec. 8 in the journal The BMJ.

The UK Department of Health funded this research. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Review Date: 
December 8, 2015