Food allergies can cause flu shot reactions

The common flu shot given each year often contains allergens known to set off some reactions in people with food allergies.

At the recent American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) annual scientific meeting, and in previous reports, experts have shared advice about administering flu shots to individuals with food allergies.

The risk of allergic reaction

To begin with, anyone who is concerned about his or her reactions to a flu shot should consult a physician and allergist before getting one. If doctors deem the flu shot beneficial, the patient should receive the shot by someone who is certified to handle an allergic reaction, and he or she should also make sure the proper tools (ephinephrine injectors, breathing pathway clearing devices, etc.) are at hand.

Those with a gelatin allergy should not get a flu shot unless it is a gelatin-free formula, which is not common. It's not unusual for the gelatin in flu shots to affect other types of food allergies as well, causing reactions that are generally not life-threatening for people with non-gelatin food allergies.

Patients with an egg allergy should no longer worry about flu shots. The formulations used now are egg allergen-free, according to the ACAAI, so only normal precautions for flu shot injections need be taken.

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