Cold and flu season stinks; just about everyone can agree on that. Co-workers who don't stay home when they're sick are just one reason why. The best defense against a potentially debilitating illness is often herd immunity, but not everyone has felt safe getting flu shots. That's about to change.
The flu vaccine has to evolve every year along with the virus, but what stays consistent is how it's manufactured. The majority of flu shots are incubated in eggs — yes, real chicken eggs. For kids and adults with egg allergies, that's a problem. Most people grow out of egg allergies while they're still young, but for those who don't, an omelet could be anaphylaxis waiting to happen. Fears about contamination from proteins within the egg have kept many people from getting the vaccine.
A new study puts those fears to rest. On Tuesday, updated guidelines from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology announced that there isn't enough egg protein in a flu shot to trigger even the most sensitive of egg-allergy patients. Before, health care professionals recommended keeping anyone with an egg allergy under supervision for 30 minutes after getting the flu shot. Now, even that has been found to be unnecessary.
Winter cold and flu season costs billions in lost worker productivity every year, not to mention it's just unpleasant through and through. But if you've been avoiding the flu clinic or the free shot at the pharmacy because you're worried about egg allergies, you can rest easy — and do your part to help immunocompromised people all around you.