Common Food Allergens in Vaccines

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Millions of routine childhood vaccinations are given every year and allergic reactions from vaccines are rare. However, people with food allergies can be at higher risk for allergic reactions as a result of vaccines containing food proteins.

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As I was researching vaccines before vaccinating my one year-old with multiple food allergies, I found the following allergens in some common, and some not so common, vaccines.

Common Food Allergens in Vaccines

Egg Protein

Influenza, typhoid, and yellow fever vaccines are produced in eggs causing egg proteins to be present in the final product which can cause an allergic reaction. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology states that 1.6 percent of children have an allergy to egg protein and therefore might not be able to receive the vaccine.

Measles and mumps vaccines, including the MMR vaccine, are made in chick embryo cells in culture, not in eggs. The much smaller amount of remaining egg proteins found in the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine does not usually cause a reaction in egg allergic children.

If your child has a severe egg allergy and you are concerned about an allergic reaction to the MMR vaccine, your allergist can test for an MMR allergy and if positive, administer the vaccination in multiple small doses over an extended period of time.

Gelatin

Some vaccines contain gelatin to protect them against freeze-drying or heat. People with severe allergies to gelatin should avoid getting gelatin-containing vaccines.

Routine childhood vaccines containing gelatin include MMR, varicella (chicken-pox), influenza, and DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis).

Non-routine vaccines containing gelatin include yellow fever, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis. Allergic reactions to the MMR vaccine are far more likely due to the gelatin in the vaccine rather than to residual egg proteins in the vaccine.

Bovine (Beef) Gelatin

Gelatin is created by prolonged boiling of animal skin, connective tissue or bones, usually of bovine or porcine origin, and is one of many types of stabilizers added to vaccines. Vaccines with gelatin may contain bovine gelatin.

If your child has a history of food allergies, discuss with your allergist whether or not he or she should be vaccinated, and whether or not the vaccines should be administered in your pediatricians office or your allergists office.

Disclaimer: This is the list of food allergens I found in vaccines while doing research before vaccinating my one year-old with multiple food allergies. This list may not be complete and may not be up-to-date with current vaccines as vaccines change from year to year, and I urge all parents to be proactive in communicating their concerns regarding food allergies and vaccines with their health care providers prior to vaccinating children with food allergies.

References: American Academy of Pediatrics

Author information

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Stacy Molter

Owner / Editor at Fancy Shanty | Stacy Molter Photography

Stacy is a mom blogger in Southern California (Ventura County) and the Greater Sacramento area who shares her experiences homeschooling her four children, raising multiples, supporting her two children living with multiple food allergies, and helping a child with special needs thrive.

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