By Linda in Florida,
Q: Are there specific precautions I can take to counter the fact that I’m allergic to the flu shot? I’m worried, and I assume others in my situation are as well.
Linda in Florida
A: Health experts have told us over and over that it is especially important this year to get a flu shot because of the pandemic. They want to prevent a bad flu season, which, combined with coronavirus outbreaks, could overwhelm hospitals.
We’ve recently gotten several questions about egg allergies and vaccines, some of them related to the flu shot and others to a potential coronavirus inoculation. Most flu vaccines are developed in eggs, which means there could be some lingering egg protein in the shot you receive.
The first thing you should do is talk to your doctor to see whether you actually cannot receive a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says having an egg allergy that is severe enough to prevent you from getting a vaccine is exceedingly rare.
Even people with such a severe allergy that they have “required epinephrine or another emergency medical intervention” from a previous reaction to eggs can still get any licensed flu vaccine, according to the CDC. It should be administered in a medical setting such as a physicians office, clinic, health department or hospital, so you can be monitored for a reaction and treated, if necessary.
You could ask your doctor about two licensed flu vaccines for this season that the CDC says are egg-free: Flublok Quadrivalent and Flucelvax Quadrivalent.
There is one circumstance in which the CDC recommends not getting a flu shot. “A person who has previously experienced a severe allergic reaction to flu vaccine, regardless of the component suspected of being responsible for the reaction, should not get a flu vaccine again,” the agency wrote.
If you’re one of those cases, Linda, you should be more mindful of spreading germs as the weather gets colder and protecting yourself from them — something we all should be doing, frankly. We have learned a lot from the past eight months. We’re wearing masks now. We’re washing our hands more and limiting close contact with other people. All of these things will also help decrease flu transmission in the fall and winter.
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