By: Jonathan Spergel, MD, PhD.
Dr. Spergel is Chief of the Allergy Section and Co-Director of the Center for Pediatric Eosinophilic Disorders at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Egg allergy is one of the more common pediatric food allergies. It typically affects just 0.5 percent of the pediatric population (less than 1 of every 100 children) and 5 of every 100 children with allergies. Reactions to egg can vary from life-threatening anaphylaxis to atopic dermatitis (eczema) to hives.
Food allergies are diagnosed by physical examination, previous experience, and allergy testing. There are two types of allergy testing: skin testing and blood testing for specific antibodies to eggs (commonly called RAST testing). Each test has advantages and disadvantages. In general, if you are negative on either test, you do not have an allergy to egg; however, the blood test can be negative in about 5 of every 100 children who actually have an egg allergy. A positive blood or skin test indicates a potential to react to egg, and the larger the skin or blood test, the more likely it is that a reaction will occur. However, the size of the skin or blood test does not correlate with how severe a reaction will be.
Because influenza and yellow fever vaccines are both made in eggs, egg proteins (primarily ovalbumin) are present in the final products.
Current protocols require that people with egg allergies repeat the process with an allergist each time they get the vaccine because the protocols do not prevent the allergy, they simply provide a way to get around the allergic response in the short term, so that the vaccine can be given safely.
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Reviewed by: Paul A. Offit, MD
Date: April 2013
Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.