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This is a big relief for parents of children with food allergies.

Zee Krstic
December 22, 2017

Parents who have faced the dilemma of securing flu vaccinations for children who are highly allergic to eggs have also likely encountered medical advise that they either seek out egg-free vaccines, or abstain altogether.

But new research, published this month in the Annals of Allergy by a team of doctors at the University of Colorado, found the flu vaccine is safe for even those with egg allergies.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, the team’s lead researcher, is telling medical professionals that any person suffering from any degree of an egg allergy can get a flu shot without any “special precautions.” This is great news for parents who can now visit the local pharmacy instead of making an appointment with their child's allergist.

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While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admits that no seasonal flu vaccine guarantees perfect immunity—last year’s was just 43 percent effective— it still remains the leading option to prevent infection. Many of the mass-produced (and highly accessible) vaccines, however, have been made with chicken eggs and often is composed of byproduct protein called ovalbumin, or OVA.

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The paper was published after researchers analyzed 28 studies covering thousands of people with egg allergies, several hundred of them with severe life-threatening conditions.

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While it’s true that egg allergies are often outgrown by adulthood, Dr. Greenhawt estimates that more than two percent of children in the United States are affected by the affliction—with parents who are probably more than cautious to seek out flu shots.

Given that millions Americans are expected to contract the flu this winter, this development could be a lifesaver for some families who might have foregone immunization over worries about allergic reactions.