Safety of the MMR Vaccine for Kids with Egg Allergies

Child vaccination
Andreas Reh/Getty Images

Question: Is it safe for my child with egg allergies to get the MMR vaccine?

Answer: Yes, it appears to be quite safe for children who are allergic to eggs to get the vaccine, even if their allergy is severe.

The MMR vaccine protects children and adults against three diseases: measles, mumps and rubella. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention calls for children to receive two MMR shots: the first when they are 15 months old, and the second booster shot when they are four to six years old.

The concern about egg allergy arose because two of the active ingredients in the MMR vaccine — the measles and mumps components — are grown in cultures from chicken embryos. Chicken embryos obviously start out as eggs.

Still, even though the MMR vaccine is cultured in a way that could lead to egg protein in the vaccine itself, the amount of egg protein in the vaccine that's actually given is very low, and it's not enough to spark an allergic reaction.

Studies Show MMR Is Safe for Those with Egg Allergy

There have been several studies that have shown the vaccine to be safe, even for children who have a history of severe allergic reactions to egg.

For example, doctors in Spain gave the MMR shot to 26 toddlers with egg allergy. None of those children had an allergic reaction. And in Denmark, doctors immunized and tracked 32 egg-allergic toddlers, none of whom had an allergic reaction to the vaccine.

In both cases, the clinicians involved reported that the vaccine is safe in children with an allergy to eggs.

Based on the medical research that's been done, both the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (AICP) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend the MMR vaccine for children with egg allergies.

In addition, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases guidelines call for children with egg allergies to get the MMR vaccine. These guidelines were written by a panel of experts from 34 professional organizations, federal agencies, and patient advocacy groups, including prominent allergists who specialize in food allergies.

The Bottom Line

The MMR vaccine is safe, even if your child is allergic to eggs. In addition, sometimes, the MMR vaccine is administered bundled with the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine -– at which point it is referred to as the MMRV vaccine. The varicella vaccine does not contain any egg protein, so the combined shot is also safe for children with egg allergies.

Sources:

Andersen DV et al. MMR vaccination of children with egg allergy is safe. Danish Medical Journal. 2013 Feb;60(2):A4573.

Cerecedo Carballo I et al. Safety of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) in patients allergic to eggs. Allergologia et Immunopathologia (Madrid). 2007 May-Jun;35(3):105-9.

James JM et al. Safe administration of the measles vaccine to children allergic to eggs. New England Journal of Medicine. 1995 May 11;332(19):1262-6.

NIAID-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, December 2010.

Continue Reading