Food allergies can make you allergic to certain vaccines

In the United States, millions of routine childhood vaccinations are administered each year; allergic reactions from these vaccines are extremely rare. However, some people with allergies to certain foods may be at a higher risk of developing an allergic reaction to vaccines that contain certain food proteins.

Some routine childhood immunizations contain traces of egg protein or other food components.

Therefore, children with food allergies may experience anaphylaxis (severe anaphylaxis) from vaccination. The following foods are present in small amounts in routine childhood vaccines; other unconventional vaccines that contain food proteins are also listed.

Egg

Children with egg allergies are the biggest concern when it comes to childhood vaccinations.

  • The following routine childhood immunizations may contain eggs or egg-related protein: Influenza (flu) and measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccines
  • The following unconventional vaccines contain egg protein: yellow fever vaccine and typhoid vaccine

Recommendations for these vaccines may require allergy testing prior to vaccination. In some cases, medical supervision after vaccination is recommended to evaluate and treat signs of allergic reaction as needed.

The typhoid vaccine is not routinely administered in the United States. If you are allergic to eggs and are traveling to a geographic area where the typhoid vaccine is recommended, discuss the risks and benefits in your specific case with your doctor.

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These 3 vaccines may pose risks if you are allergic to eggs

Flu vaccine

Flu vaccines contain a limited amount of egg protein, and this amount can vary by year and batch.

In general, the flu shot should not be given to people who are truly allergic to eggs. A person who tests positive for an egg allergy but can eat eggs without any symptoms is not an egg allergy.

In some cases, the benefits of receiving this vaccine may outweigh the risks; this may be the case for people with severe asthma and mild egg allergies.

According to the recommendations of the CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, people with a history of egg allergy should be vaccinated against influenza, and there is no need to observe allergic reactions after influenza vaccination. Those with a history of severe allergic reactions to eggs should be vaccinated under the supervision of a health care provider who can recognize and manage severe allergic reactions.

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MMR vaccine

The MMR vaccine is produced in chicken fibroblast cultures; the vaccine may not contain egg protein, which can occur in people allergic to eggs. Most people, even those with a severe egg allergy, will not have an allergic reaction to the MMR vaccine.

Therefore, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children with egg allergies receive the MMR vaccine without any special measures. It is reasonable to monitor children with egg allergy in a doctor’s office for a period of time after the MMR vaccine.

Yellow fever vaccine

Yellow fever vaccine, an unconventional vaccine given to people traveling to Central/South America and sub-Saharan Africa, does contain a lot of egg protein and should not be given to people with egg allergies.

The yellow fever vaccine, which has the highest egg protein content of all egg vaccines, has also been reported to cause allergic reactions in people allergic to chicken.

Under close monitoring by a doctor, the yellow fever vaccine may be able to be given in small amounts within a few hours to people allergic to eggs.

gelatin

Gelatin, like that found in jelly, is added to many vaccines as a heat stabilizer.

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Routine childhood vaccines that contain gelatin include:

  • MMR
  • Chickenpox (chicken pox)
  • influenza
  • DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis)

Allergic reactions to MMR vaccines are more likely to come from the gelatin in the vaccine than from the residual egg protein in the vaccine.

Unconventional vaccines containing gelatin include yellow fever, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis.

People who experience allergic reactions after consuming gelatin foods (Jell-O) should not receive any of the vaccines listed above, or can be vaccinated with caution. People with a gelatin allergy may receive a gelatin-containing vaccine under the direct supervision of a doctor.

baker’s yeast

Some vaccines are made of synthetic Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is a common baker’s yeast used to make bread. Routine childhood vaccines containing baker’s yeast include hepatitis B and any combination vaccine containing hepatitis B.

People who have an allergic reaction after eating foods containing baker’s yeast should not get the hepatitis B vaccine. However, yeast-containing vaccines can be given to people allergic to yeast under the direct supervision of a doctor.

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