Vaccines in People Allergic to Eggs: What's Safe and What's Not?

Hispanic boy getting a shot at doctor's office
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Question: I've heard certain vaccines — the influenza, MMR, rabies and yellow fever shots in particular — might contain egg protein and therefore might not be safe for people who are allergic to eggs. Is this true?

Answer: It's true that those four vaccines do contain small amounts of egg protein, because they're cultured either in eggs or in chick embryos. Other recommended vaccines, including the Pneumovax 23 vaccine, are not considered a risk for those with egg allergy.

However, even in the four vaccines considered to be potentially problematic for egg-allergic people, each shot contains different levels of egg protein. Therefore, some are considered safer for people with egg allergies than others. Also, egg-free alternatives exist for two of the shots.

Here are the details for each vaccine:

MMR Shot and Egg Allergies

The MMR (which stands for measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine normally is given twice in childhood: once at 15 months, and again in a booster shot at ages four to six. This shot is considered safe, even for people who have severe egg allergies.

The shot is cultured in chicken embryos, but only traces of egg protein remain in the finished product. Medical researchers have looked at the effects of the vaccine in children with egg allergies, and have found no allergic reactions resulted from getting the shot.

Is It Safe for My Child with Egg Allergies to Have the MMR Vaccine?

Rabies Vaccine and Egg Allergies

Rabies is a dangerous virus transmitted through bites from infected animals. Once symptoms begin, the disease is almost always fatal.

There are various different vaccines on the market for rabies that can be administered after you've been exposed to the virus. However, most of the vaccines are cultured in chicken embryos and aren't considered safe for people who have severe egg allergies.

Fortunately, there is one option for the egg-allergic: Imovax, which is not cultured in chick embryos.

What Rabies Vaccines Are Safe for Those with Egg Allergies?

Flu Shots and Egg Allergies

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone ages six months and older should get an annual flu shot. However, people with egg allergies need to take special precautions, since almost all influenza vaccines are cultured in chicken eggs.

There's one flu vaccine — Flublok, made by Protein Sciences Corporation — that does not use chicken eggs during manufacturing. Flublok is approved for anyone ages 18 and up, so if you're allergic to eggs and fall into that age range, you should ask specifically for Flublok.

For children and teens under age 18 with egg allergy, the CDC urges them to get the regular flu shot, but only under the direct care of a doctor with expertise in handling severe allergic reactions.

Can People with Egg Allergies Get the Influenza Vaccine?

Yellow Fever Vaccine and Egg Allergies

Yellow fever is a severe, mosquito-borne illness common in parts of South America and Africa.

The disease has a high death rate, and you need to be vaccinated against yellow fever in order to travel to certain countries.

However, all yellow fever vaccines are cultured in eggs, and doctors advise those with a history of severe allergic reactions to avoid the vaccine. Those with milder allergic reactions may be able to handle the yellow fever shot, or it's also possible to have allergy testing done with the vaccine itself to see whether you might be able to handle it.

Risks of Yellow Fever Vaccine in People Allergic to Eggs

If you have concerns about the potential risks of any recommended vaccination, talk to your doctor about the safety of each vaccine individually. The type and severity of your reactions to eggs may determine if a certain vaccine is safe for you.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flublok Seasonal Influenza (Flu) Vaccine fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 10, 2016.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccination: Who Should Do It, Who Should Not, and Who Should Take Precautions fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 10, 2016.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-sponsored Expert Panel. Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Report of the NIAID-Sponsored Expert Panel. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Volume 126, Issue 6, Supplement , Pages S1-S58, December 2010

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