Can I get the flu vaccine if I'm allergic to eggs?

Answers from James T C Li, M.D., Ph.D.

Yes. Some flu vaccines are made using eggs. As a result, the vaccines have tiny amounts of egg proteins in them. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that if you're allergic to eggs that you can't get a flu shot.

There is a flu vaccine that doesn't contain egg proteins, approved for use in adults age 18 and older. And even flu vaccines that do have egg proteins can be given safely to most people with egg allergy.

If you've had a reaction to eggs in the past, talk to your doctor before getting a flu vaccination. Your doctor may choose to give you the vaccine made without use of eggs or send you to a physician who specializes in allergies.

A skin test may be needed to see if you're truly allergic to eggs. A nurse or doctor will scratch a tiny amount of egg protein on your skin and watch to see if your skin reacts to it.

If the skin test is positive, you'll still probably be able to get the influenza vaccine. Your doctor may want you to wait 30 minutes before leaving, in case you have a reaction. Some physicians recommend giving 10 percent of the vaccine in one injection, then the remaining 90 percent of the vaccine in a second injection if there's no reaction to the first dose.

Sept. 13, 2013 See more Expert Answers