Parents often raise concerns about immunisations in children with allergies. This is because the vaccines used contain substances which can, in some cases, cause an allergic reaction. However, in practice, allergy to vaccines is very unusual.
It used to be thought that the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine should not be given to egg-allergic children. In fact, the information which is often provided with the vaccine continues to warn that egg-allergic children may react to the vaccine! This is incorrect. The measles vaccine is not grown in whole eggs, but in cells which are derived from hens – and these cells do NOT contain any egg protein. Therefore, the MMR vaccine is safe in all egg-allergic children (including those with severe allergy) and all egg-allergic children should have the vaccine.
The influenza vaccine is grown in hens eggs and can contain very small amounts of egg protein. However, the amount of protein is very carefully controlled by manufacturers, with government regulation. New research has demonstrated that the influenza vaccines available in the UK are safe to give to children with mild egg allergy. Furthermore, it is rare for a child with severe egg allergy to experience an allergic reaction to the vaccine; however, most specialists will recommend the vaccine be given to such children under medical supervision. You should discuss this with your doctor or health visitor if you have any concerns.
The vaccines against Yellow fever and typhus are produced in a similar way to Influenza. However, this vaccine is not a routine part of the UK immunisation schedule and are usually only given to people travelling abroad to high-risk destinations.
All available information about immunisation and allergy points to the fact that immunisation in children who are at high risk of developing allergy is safe and not a factor in their future allergic conditions.
Last updated: March 2012